The Constitution is the supreme law in our country. The Constitution should enshrine principles, culture and values in a democratic state and people. Our Constitutional arrangements therefore should not be confined only to setting out the distribution of power, the means for the settlement of disputes etc. It must also reflect the basic values of democracy and the economic and social principles for ensuring a cultured, safer and far easier and dignified existence for all our people.
Since independence, we have had two home-grown Constitutions. Didn’t the Constitution- makers say their objective was to upgrade the quality of life for the benefit of the people? Didn’t they make it even worse?
However, our Constitution (1978) specifies that every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of an individual’s choice.
It also says that no person should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that no citizen should be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, political opinion, the freedom of speech and expression including publication, peaceful assembly, to form and join a trade union and the like. Why did politicos disregard the other vital areas such as education, health, fair employment policies-including rights and privileges of differently-abled citizens and the aged?
Juan Somavia, Director-General – ILO had said:
“Helping young people to realise their productive potential and to harness their energies and talents to shape a better world is our challenge and our responsibility today and our gift to our future”.
Jeremy Bentham had argued that “What the physician is to the natural body, the legislator is to the political. Legislation is the art of medicine exercised upon a grand scale”.
Could you believe our elected representatives voted heavily to repeal the17th Amendment, which was a ‘Constitutional package of revisions’ introduced to overcome endless political abuse of State institutions, funds, and policies ? The18th Amendment was enacted by Parliament with a 114 majority having secured 2/3s with 161 members voting for it and 17 against it.
Six UNP members – Upeksha Swarnamali, Earl Gunasekera, Abdul Cader, Nimal Wijesinghe, Lakshman Seneviratne, and Manusha Nanayaakkara crossed over to the Government in support of the 18th Amendment.
During Premadasa’s Presidency in the 1990s, the Cabinet approved a proposal setting out the future recruitment policy on the unanimous recommendation of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth Unrest, chaired by the Late A. C. S. Hameed.
The PSC in its report highlighted the fact that the youth frustration and the two insurgencies had erupted mainly due to unemployment and unfair social practices of successive Governments such as political interferences and nepotism in recruitment and other areas and recommended proposals to prevent a comeback of such unfortunate man-made catastrophes in the country.
The Premadasa Government accordingly took immediate steps and introduced the PA Circular No. 15 of 1990 for the purpose.
Isn’t it a crime after the assassination of President Premadasa, the policy circular has been conveniently pushed under the carpet by all successive Governments for political expediency?
May we also consider incorporating necessary provisions such as banning employment of kith and kin too as personnel staff of Ministers?
This has been debarred by a Presidential circular during the previous regime.
Do you think that rampant nepotism, corruption, and abuse of power could possibly be storing up trouble for the future?
If so, shouldn’t these be given a place in the Constitution in order to make our Constitutional democracy more democratic than before!
If the present leadership intends to do justice and encourage our bright, capable young talent because they are our future, shouldn’t they give meritocracy the due place!
Didn’t we observe a serious mistake during the last regime when an attempt was made to re-write the Constitution to allow a third term?
Similarly, in a previous occasion the provision to permit defeated candidates entering Parliament (Article 99) had also allegedly been introduced clandestinely, (When 14th Amendment was passed in 1988) by replacing a second bill which had contained provisions to permit those who had contested elections. Do you think we could uplift this country when they resort to similar immoral double-dealer tactics even in regard to Constitutional amendments?
I would imagine the biggest threat in developing countries had been military coups. There had been no military regimes in our beloved motherland.
Nevertheless, how about earthslip in Miriyabedda some years ago. Miriyabedda had been forgotten. Relief has still not been granted to a majority of victims.
If so, could we muster 2/3s vote in Parliament to enact Constitutional provisions that all appointments should be purely on merit and in accordance with approved policy set out in PA Circular 15 of 1990?
We need a paradigm shift at present in our approach to take progressive and important policy decisions in designing public policies and attitudes. Good policy now refers to investment in people.
Haven’t they given less priority to the rule of law, good governance and institutional development? Haven’t they also forgotten the priority areas that need to be addressed to promote human development? Shouldn’t they firmly resolve to complete the journey of our nation’s transformation to a finish, as was promised prior to elections. Leaving it in the hands of politicians alone would be deadly? Wouldn’t it!
Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of a massive national disaster, shouldn’t the politicians stop playing politics?
Presidential Secretariat has announced that there had been a large number of petitions against public officials, who have failed to respond to the needs of the affected members of the public. What a pity?
Shouldn’t the leadership use this disaster to compel the politicians and the bureaucrats to change their attitudes and prioritise the needs of the people and the country before themselves?
Furthermore, Sirasa TV and numerous privately owned establishments have done a commendable job in sending relief items to the affected people with efficiency and speed.
In addition, the armed forces have always stood up whenever the country faced unsurmountable challenges. Shouldn’t they be commended for good work done?
Public dissatisfaction also however is on the increase due to lethargic responses from the government.
Shouldn’t the Government therefore place the country under emergency immediately and provide urgent relief measures and extend assistance to the affected?
Severe destruction has been caused to the people and the country due to corruption, poor policy implementation, human and political idiosyncrasies, and other natural disasters!
Shouldn’t this be turned to the benefit of the masses and masses alone?
Will the recovery process therefore begin without delay?