SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday that while strongly opposing the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution his party would work towards 19+ with the strong emphasis on national security.
Speaking to Newspaper Editors and journalists at the Opposition Leader’s Office, he described the 20A as a “death blow” to democracy and emphasised the fact that the present trend in the world was towards decentralization and the consolidation of theseparation of powers among the different sectors of the government.
Mr. Premadasa said the 20A on the other hand would concentrate power in one person.
He said his party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya had appointed a committee headed by MP Rajitha Senaratne to gather various democratic forces in the country to defeat the 20A. He said while doing so they would also present an alternative in the form of 19+ that would identify certain weaknesses in the 19th Amendment with the national security aspect to ensure a sovereign and unitary country. Mr. Premadasa said they would propose to strengthen the independent institutions and provide the necessary human resources for their successful functioning.
When asked as to what proposals he suggested against the main criticism of the 19th Amendment which is that it leads to a conflict between the President and the Prime Minister as evidenced during the previous regime, Mr. Premadasa said provisions based on personalities and the targeting of individuals should be avoided. He said institutions should be strengthened based on policies and principles and not based on personalities.
MP Rajitha Senaratne said the 19th Amendment came about with the initiative taken by Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and that all MPs in the 2015 Parliament except for one voted in favour. He said that the 20th Amendment was taking the country backwards and is a return to the original J.R. Jayewardene constitution and that it would do away with the good features like the Audit Commission and the Procurement Commission. Dr. Senaratne said whatever problems with the 19th Amendment were not about policy but were technical issues that could be rectified.
SJB General Secretary, MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara said the 20th Amendment would lead to the creation of a dictatorial military government.