Having won an election for the last time in 2001, Ranil Wickramasinghe is desperately pulling all the rabbits he can from his hat hoping something would pop-out to propel him onto the Presidential Chair. All his yes men-Tissa Attanayake, Laksman Kiriella, Ravi Karunanayake, Karu Jayasuriy and the rest follow him wagging their tails yapping in unison,
hoping one day to follow the “magic leader” in to some sort of government of their own,
while the failed politician Mangala Samaraweera is praying the western leaders to boycott the CHOGM, as he says he has found a dictator in Sri Lanka. What a looney lot ?
In the mean time the Catholic Bishops’ Conference led by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has announced the wisdom to have a totally new Constitution, and proposes while waiting , to continue to keep the 13 Amendment in tact. Apparently the Cardinal would like to have his say in a new Constitution to multiethnic Sri Lanka, providing an equal place to Christianity along side Buddhism .
A constitution and the writing of it is not the activity of a political party without government responsibility, if it is so there would be numerous Constitutions prepared by different political Parties, -the TNA, SLMC,JVP, and claiming their constitutions as well be considered to be accepted as the Constitution of Sri Lanka by a referendum- a vogue term now brandished in respect of the 13Amendment. Therefore, it is a dangerous precedence, and lack of respect to an existing Constitution for UNP to present a draft for a new Constitution to Sri Lanka.
Ranil Wickramasinghe may well have written a Constitution for his own part, but his attempt at writing a Constitution to Sri Lanka is a pathetic sequel to his political failure as an astute politician, despite his being the Prime Minister twice and many years as the Leader of the Opposition of the Parliament. He seems to have learnt nothing of politics either as the Prime Minister, or as the Leader of the Opposition.
Writing a Constitution for a Nation cannot be taken lightly although again a UNP Leader had been the prime mover of the present Constitution of Sri Lanka with its numerous defects, with the inclusion of the 13Amendment as the “icing on the cake”.
The Present Constitution however is the second Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka of the three Constitution she had since her independence. The first constitution of 1946 with Dominion status was authored by Sir Ivor Jennings. The second and the First Republican Constitution of 1972 was authored by Dr. Colvin R.De Silva.
The present Constitution came into effect in 1978 . This Constitution was created by a political leader who was thrown into the political backyard after the SLFP triumphed at the General Election of 1970. The SLFP drew up the new Constitution of 1972 breaking away from the Westminster model and establishing the first Republic of Sri Lanka, with a ceremonial President. The Prime Minster was given executive Authority.
In the General elections of 1977 the UNP led by JR Jayawardhana got a landslide victory. JR Jayawadhane who had been biting his nails for seven years being out of political power had planned a revengeful come back. He immediately set about preparing a Constitution on the basis of the UK and French Constitutions and made himself the all powerful Executive President.
The Executive powers of the President was not questioned at the time and JR used executive power making himself a Dictator. owHowever when However when eventually Mahinda Rajapakse was elected President of Sri Lanka, he still retained the 1978 Constitution, but refrained from using the Executive powers vested in him as the President to the detriment of the people and the country. He kept strictly within the Democratic norms, whatever his antagonists have to say.
It shows that even the excessive powers vested in the office of a Dictator or a President may still be used for the betterment of the people and the country dependent mostly on the character and a strictly religious, cultural and patriotic essence of the person holding the office , as it is in the case of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse.
One cannot deny that in fact the Executive Powers vested in the President under the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka had been of benefit to Sri Lanka in the elimination of the terrorism and keeping at bay those who wanted to prevent the successful military operations against terrorists. The retaining those powers further is still essential as the terrorism though it has disappeared in the soil of Sri Lanka it still lingers amoung those Tamils who live in clover in Western Countries.
They keep alive the fires of communal hatred amoung the Tamils in the diaspora and those within the country shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of the Tamil people without taking any step to help them. Instead they are using all means to destabilise and weaken the government to allow the star players from the West to intervene to divide Sri Lanka to allow them to establish a separate Eelam State, to derive political benefits for themselves.
Therefore, UNP’s latest tactic to bring disrepute to the Government of the President Mahinda Rajapakse and remove the government by a possible popular uprising of the people against it, is seeking the people’s approval for his Draft Constitution. It is a dangerous initiative which had no precedence any where else in the world.
It is best to have one Constitution for Sri Lanka for ever, without having a new Constitution each time a new political party comes in to power. The Constitution has only to be amended to remove what is considered offensive, out dated or a danger to the unitary status of Sri Lanka .
In other words a Constitution should be Amended and not rescinded. The 1978 Constitution with much of its defects had withstood the most critical period of Sri Lanka’s history, and therefore it is worth keeping it as the basic instrument of political Authority and the one and only Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Eventually, Amendments may be brought in to reduce the executive powers of the President and Committees be set up to study the ways and means to improve the Constitution always without rescinding it, but moving suitable Amendments.
In conclusion, Ranil Wickramasinghe or following him any other Political leader should not be allowed to brandish any document drawn in any ones back yard as a draft for a New Constitution of Sri Lanka. Such an act should be made a legally chargeable act of high treason.
We already have a constitution with which we won a war against ruthless terrorists and impeached a not so good Chief Justice, therefore we should respect the Constitution we have and keep it for generations to come. The future political leaders may continue to use this Same Constitution, amending it when the necessity arises but never rescind it to replace it with another.