The Supreme Court has ruled that certain Articles of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill presented in the Parliament in May by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as a private member’s Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution. It has also ruled that if the Bill was to be passed without changing the said Articles it should be passed with two thirds majority in the Parliament and approved by the people at a referendum.
It is amazing to note that many political parties that had been agitating for several decades to abolish the executive Presidency since its introduction in 1978 opposed the 20th Amendmentto the Constitution presented for the very same purpose. In fact, the JVP has exposed the political morality of almost all political parties with its draft Constitutional Amendment.
Any political party or individual has the right to support or oppose the executive presidential form of governance or any other system as the mode of governance appropriate to Sri Lanka. But if a political party that had in the past supported the notion of abolition of executive presidency had opposed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution just because it was presented by the JVP or because they wanted to see a particular person as the executive president in the near future, it was nothing but political hypocrisy.
Also if a party or an individual opposes the 20th Amendment after demanding the scrapping of the Presidential form of governance in the past on the grounds that certain Articles of the Amendment are inimical to the national security or national interest that is comprehensible. But if such a party or individual opposed this piece of legislation altogether they ought to give a valid, intellectually sound reason.
Leaders of many political parties including the main parties have confused their members in particular and the country in general by their irresolute stance on the mode of governance. They have been changing their stance according to the chances of them being at the helm. When they are in Opposition they would oppose the current system of governance but would not if they were in power.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led coalitions had been promising the people before every presidential and Parliamentary election since 1978, the year when the executive Presidency was introduced- that they would scrap this system once they assume power. It is well known that Sirimavo Bandaranaike (in 1988),Chandrika Kumaratunga (in 1994 and 2000) and Mahinda Rajapaksa (in 2005 and 2010) gave this promise to the country. And ridiculously every time they hoodwinked the people, except in 1988 when Mrs. Banadaranaike failed to come to power. Present rulers also came to power mainly on the promise of abolishing the Presidential rule. The main major promise given at the first media conference of Maithripala Sirisena, the common Presidential candidate of the opposition parties on November 21, 2014 was nothing but ridding of this “one man rule,” as it was called then.
Loyalists of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who held the mantle twice promising to scrap the Presidential rule now argue that separatism would be strengthened if the executive presidency was abolished. They put forward this argument nine years after the end of the separatist war whereas they were demanding the abolition of the same system when the separatists were holding a part of the country under their rule.
The same opportunistic stance is pursued by many political parties in respect of the ethnic issue as well. One would recall that it was under a coalition government led by the SLFP in which Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prof. G. L. Peiris were prominent figures that the federal form of governance was presented several times (in 1995, 1997 and 2000) as the solution to the ethnic problem. And the UNP delegation under the leadership of Prof. Peiris agreed to explore a federal form of solution during the peace talks with the LTTE in 2002. Those people who attempted to implement federalism in the country when the LTTE was a formidable force demonize the same system today.
We are not promoting or standing for any particular form of governance or a particular solution to the ethnic issue here. The point we are trying to drive home is that political parties must have unwavering policies developed on a scientific basis on major issues that the country faces.