New Democratic Front (NDF) presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa in his election manifesto launched yesterday, pledged to bring in a new constitution which will build a strong nation, to create a democratic pluralistic society and to devolve maximum power to provinces.
He also pledged to set up a second chamber which will comprise of provincial council representatives. At the same time, the NDF candidate pledged to create an undivided indivisible nation.
"A strong nation requires the judiciary to be independent of government. To ensure this, the new constitution will create an independent public prosecutor, appointed by the Constitutional Council. We will move the judicial interpretation of the constitution away from the Supreme Court to a new constitutional court which will also adjudicate disputes among different levels of government, among provinces and the central government, and among the provinces themselves," it said.
“We have embarked on a historical journey to launch a revolution of change which will benefit people from all walks of life. This is the beginning of an exercise which will bring about social, political and economic development. People in this country live with the expectation as to when Sri Lanka would be a strong nation. Our journey will be to create a historical political turnaround to fulfil this expectation,” Mr. Premadasa said speaking during the launch
“We will transform Sri Lanka into a nation which will not kneel before any country or countries. A nation with real sovereignty, where democracy is upheld in this era where some countries make an effort to intervene in internal matters of other nations,” he added.
We will create a nation where its rulers act as real custodians of the nation instead of acting like its outright owners. We will be rulers who are more humble than dust which is trampled by every foot. Our intention is to build a nation where justice prevails and where economic, religious and cultural rights are upheld in addition to other basic human rights while ensuring speedy development," he said.
He also pledged to build up new machinery to ensure the security of the nation with a national security council which will be legally constituted and to introduce the post of a national security advisor. “I don’t need to be told about the importance of ensuring national security. I lost my father in a terrorist attack and I fully understand the plight of those families who are suffering as a result of terrorism. Strong machinery to ensure security - all military officers who played a role in destroying the LTTE will be given this responsibility,” he said in this regard.
In his manifesto, Mr. Premadasa has pledged to establish an executive presidency which will work in concurrence with the prime minister to stop crossovers in parliament. Adopt a zero policy on drugs and extremism, as well as setting up special anti-narcotic courts and a special anti-narcotics prosecutor. Bring in new laws and regulations under which religious extremism will be monitored, introduce penalties on hate speech and introduce a Harmony Act. The resettlement of war-displaced persons, adopt effective disaster management policies and a meaningful power devolution to provinces based on proposals made under Presidents Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa. A25 per cent quota for women in provincial councils and parliament, a Rs 10 million life insurance policy for all working journalists, free annual medical check-ups for everyone over the age of 35 and village-level family health clinics. Establish a special development bank, reduce VAT from the current 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent, increase VAT threshold to Rs 50 million a year and increase PAYE tax threshold to Rs 150,000. Modernise the agricultural sector, introduce sound disaster management policies and introduce a fair school admission policy. He has also pledged to continue the offshore financial city project, Gamperaliya, and Enterprise Sri Lanka program. The manifesto also comprised a ten-point plan for the implementation of it. (Yohan Perera, J. A. L. Jayasinghe and L B Senaratne)