By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
The issues surrounding the 19th Amendment to the Constitution can be resolved if the amendments in their original draft are implemented or by scrapping the Executive Presidency, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, who played a vital role in drafting the legislation, said yesterday.
Dr. Wickramaratne made this statement in response to comments made by President Maithripala Sirisena who complained that the 19 A is a curse.
“I would not call the 19th Amendment to the Constitution a curse, but I accept that it has created a rift between the Legislature and the Executive. I am sad that the President thinks it is a curse,” he told the media last evening. He said the amendments made at the last moment during the committee stage had made 19 A a draconian piece of legislation. “There was a lot of amendments proposed by the opposition during the debate that took place in Parliament in April 2015. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he could not agree to these amendments as he could not go against the wishes of the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. However, we managed to contact the monk at the time and he advised us to go ahead with it as it will not be possible to make any amendments to the constitution if we do not agree to the demands made by the opposition. Additionally, he said the 19th Amendment was not his brainchild though he played a role in drafting it.
Asked whether the 20th Amendment proposed by the JVP would resolve the issues he said it would.
Responding to another statement made by the President that the 19th Amendment has been prepared by NGOs, the MP said he is a director of the Institute of Constitutional Studies. “This institution is not a state institution therefore it is an NGO,” he said.