Pic by Kithsiri De Mel
By Sandun A Jayasekera
None including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, nor the Cabinet are in the know as to the contents of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution when it is finally passed in Parliament, Co-Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Udaya Gammanpila said yesterday.
He said the proposed constitutional amendments has resulted in a major debate for and against in and out of Parliament, among the legal fraternity, the society and among the intelligentsia but however there would be no drastic change to the essence of the draft of the 20A which has been tabled in Parliament. The minister told weekly Cabinet news briefing that he and Minister Wimal Weerawansa had campaigned for the abbreviation of the 19th Amendment and the introduction of 20A during the presidential and parliamentary election campaigns.
The proposed constitutional amendments has resulted in a major debate for and against in and out of Parliament
The dialogue Ministers Rambukwella and Gammanpila ensued as follows:
The collapse of the system was not the fault of 19A.
No. Today we have no problems in governance because the President, Prime Minister and the Speaker work in close cooperation and understanding. What will happen if there was any change to this command structure?
You have a huge mandate to introduce a new Constitution. Why this haste to introduce 20A. Why can’t you go for the new Constitution directly?
The new Constitution is expected in a minimum of two years. Anything can happen in two years. Besides, we have a mandate not only for the new Constitution but for 20A as well. We need the it as early as possible.
Many are worried about several provisions in 20A, specifically about the legal immunity for the President, weakening of the Bribery Commission, Elections Commission, the Audit Commission and Procurement Commission.
You can introduce necessary changes to the Amendments during the Committee Stage in Parliament.
Is not the SLFP against 20A.
Not at all. But they have different views on 20A. We can get it sorted out at the Committee Stage. Independent Commissions need a technical solution. However, having divergent stands on the amendments is good because we can finally pass a perfect piece of legislation.
Do all orders given by the President become circulars?
I think you have taken the wrong end of the stick. President has said something to that effect with bona-fide intentions. What he meant was to carry out his orders if public officials failed to take action on any issue in 14 days.