Sept 12, Colombo: The proposed 20th Amendment to the constitution must be submitted for inclusive and open consultation, the National Movement for Social Justice said.
The National Movement for Social Justice, founded by Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, expressed its position on the proposed 20 Amendment to the Constitution at a press briefing held on September 10, 2020 at the Solis Hall in Pitakotte.
The event was participated by respected Buddhist monks and clergy of other religions, eminent citizens, with former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
Issuing a statement the Movement noted that the government has received a near two-third majority in the Parliament at the recent General Election.
While admitting and respecting the mandate given by the people, NMSJ emphasized the need to conduct broad and inclusive consultation in order for a future reform to be beneficial to all citizens of Sri Lanka and the country as a whole, in order for it to be the Constitution of all people and not a law of the victor.
“The proposed 20th Amendment is set to concentrate power around executive presidency with no precedence in history. Just as we like to believe that the President has good intentions in mind to bring forth these reforms, it must be kept in mind that such extraordinary concentration of power in the hands of one person may even lead to irrecoverably disastrous consequences,” the statement said.
The Statement further said:
The 17th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution strengthened democracy and rule of law, and NMSJ has stood for such progressive reforms and justice since its inception. As such NMSJ reiterates that any reform to the constitution should improve on the provisions for democratic governance embedded in the 19** Amendment and should not try to reverse them.
Governance of the country must be carried out by institutions of democracy, the proposed 20th Amendment concentrates the power in the hands of one person. This reform, therefore, may open the door to an authoritarian rule that may lead the country to economic, social and cultural decay.
Under the theme ‘One Country — One Law’, no person should be above the law. This should be applicable to the present as well as future Presidents. Unfortunately, 20A keeps the president above the law. The Parliament and the judiciary have been subjugated the Presidency. Further, he has been kept above the Constitution of the country.
Constitutions must be made to suit the country and not to suit individuals. The immunity given to the Presidency, in combination with other unprecedented powers on appointment and dismissing powers, can only undermine democracy and freedom of people to live a normal life.
There will be no independent institutions under 20A. As the prevailing Constitutional Council is proposed to be replaced by a Parliamentary Council, that will only be making observation. No free and fair election or a police service could be expected in the future.
As the President is proposed to be empowered to appoint and dismiss superior judges and also appoint members to judicial service commission unprecedented. Independence of the Judiciary has never been undermined in such a shameless manner.
Dual citizens who have pledged their allegiance to foreign countries should never be allowed to hold high posts in the country.
The removal of Procurement and Audit Commissions will further increase corruption.
In this context National Movement for a Just Society believes that, ideally, the 20th Amendment should have been made available as a white paper. However, the proposals must now be calls for an inclusive and broad consultation with the people of Sri Lanka.