There is no need to prepare a draft for a new constitution if it cannot be approved by a two thirds majority, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said over the weekend. He said it is not clear whether a draft for a new constitution would be approved by a two thirds majority as the parties in Parliament have to decide on it.
The Premier expressed this sentiment at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new Daham Pasal building at the Sri Poorawarama Temple in Yakkalamulla on Saturday.
“There is a Steering Committee chaired by me. We have listened to all sentiments expressed by political parties. We tabled the expert committee report and an alternative report. A report on the sentiments expressed by the Chief Ministers and another report which comprised proposals made by political parties were presented to the Constitutional Assembly recently. It is the duty of the Steering committee to present all the available documents on the constitution,” he said.
He said anyone could read these documents and highlighted that the constitutional process could go forward only if all proposals are approved by a two thirds majority. “ There is no necessity to prepare a draft for a new constitution if it cannot be approved by a two thirds majority,” the Prime Minister said.
He said it is appropriate to consider the sentiments expressed by the most Venerable Mahanayaka Thera of Malwathu Chapter on the new constitution. He was also referring to a statement made by the Mahanayaka Thera of the Malwathu Chapter that it is not the time to bring in a new constitution.
“It is important to think carefully of the sentiments expressed by the Mahanayaka Thera. His statement is of great importance at a time when many are shouting saying a new constitution through which the country is going to b divided,” the Premier Wickremesinghe said.
“Such sentiments are expressed at a time there is no new constitution. There is no draft for a new constitution. Government has not done anything about a new constitution,” he added. He said a Constitution Assembly has been appointed with all members in Parliament.
The Prime Minister recalled that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa welcomed the regional councils proposed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1995. “Sri Lanka was going to be made a union of regions in 1995. I asked Mr. Rajapaksa as to why he did not oppose it at that time. He told me that he could not oppose it as he was a member of President Kumaratunga’s government. He was of the opinion that regional councils would not divide the nation. Also Mr. Rajapaksa said at the All Party Conference in 2009 that his intention was to devolve maximum power,” the Prime Minister also said.
He said it is not to say that the present government is going to divide the nation just because one party had asked for regional councils today. The PM said the UNP’s stance is devolving power in an undivided nation. “This was the stance late PM D. S. Senanayake, late President J. R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa had. UNP will not move away from this stance,” Premier Wickremesinghe stressed.(Yohan Perera)