The draft Constitution, which was to be presented in Parliament on December 7, 2018, would be presented before February 4 2019, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman MP M.A. Sumanthiran said.
He briefed this when the visiting member of the European Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden met with the leader of the TNA R. Sampanthan yesterday in Colombo.
Apprising Van Orden of the recent political developments in the country, Mr. Sampanthan pointed out the importance of the reconstitution of the Constitutional Council through which the independence of the judiciary has been preserved, which was clearly demonstrated during the recent crisis situation.
Upon answering a question, Mr. Sampanthan expressed that “our support to reinstate the Government was on principle. The country was in distress and there was no Prime Minister or a Government. We had to support to reinstate the Government to prevent further damage being done to the economy and for normalcy in the functioning of institutions in this country”, said Mr. Sampanthan.
He also pointed out “that the new Constitution must ensure that the country is undivided and indivisible, further it should also ensure that there is a genuine power-sharing arrangement which allows the people and the regional/provincial governments, to exercise powers in regard to the matters that are connected to their day to day life.
When a new Constitution is introduced, if we see it as a reasonable and acceptable one, our people will accept it. Ever since the enactment of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, much work has been done to improve the Constitution under every successive leader of this country. During President Premadasa’s time, there was the Mangala Munasinghe select committee report, during President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s tenure the 2000 proposal, during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time the All-Party Representatives Committee and the Prof. Tissa Vitharana’s proposal.
All these proposals were a substantial improvement to the Constitution. Over thirty years, much work has been done and now we have the opportunity - we must grab it for the betterment of this country” said Mr. Sampanthan before further adding, “I am being reasonably optimistic because this is my country and I want this country to prosper, therefore I cannot be pessimistic.” Responding to a question in regard to the activities of diaspora members, MP M.A. Sumanthiran said, “the extreme elements in the diaspora are numerically very small and if there are proper power-sharing arrangements in Sri Lanka, a large section of the diaspora is willing to support such process” he added.
“Attitudes and actions of an extremist section of the diaspora will not have any influence on our decisions” said Mr. Sampanthan. Further, he said, “at every local election our people have consecutively and firmly voted out such extreme elements”. Speaking on the land issues, Mr. Sampanthan pointed out “we are against the state-sponsored settlement schemes which are done deliberately to change the ethnic composition in the regions, we are not against natural migration of people.
The Tamil speaking people have an inherent interest to preserve their land and their culture” said Mr. Sampanthan. Expressing his views, Geoffrey Van Orden said he expected more foreign support towards reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka post-2009, and that he is not happy that then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not pursue efforts to achieve true reconciliation in this country.