“Parliamentary Select Committee only can change the Constitution” Minister Anura Yapa quotes the President.Parliament Select Committee on Constitution Reform is a perennial non-starter in a bluffer’s paradise - a procrastinator’s dreamboat. A condemned vehicle incapable of hopping on to it for the needed passengers or if shoved in, on persuasion or twisted arm [by India or USA]-jump off it taking the exit route or sabotage from within.
TNA and UNP - the wistful fellow travellers who will not undertake an arduous and hazardous trip to help the Government- when they are accomplished stone throwers from outside. If similarly positioned, would SLFP or UPFA buy a one -way ticket to oblivion? There are no takers on both sides of the divide who think of doing the best for the sake of the country.
A Parliamentary Select Committee [PSC] can do much if the intentions of its members are honest and sincere as when the Parliament converted itself to a Constituent Assembly to usher the first Republican Constitution of 1972. That was in a different realm of politics with a different breed of politicians. 40 years is a long time with a generation gone! After the ending of the war –three years ago- people gave a near 2/3 majority to enable the Constitution to be revised- it was not to extend the term of the President or arrogate more power with the 18th Amendment. People voted in gratitude for winning the war and to ensure the country remains undivided after the blood and sweat. Feeling remains the same but conviction has gone away.
Next round of elections could hear again the belated cry of seeking the people’s support to obtain a 2/3 majority to change the constitution. A shriek heard before to which the people responded favourably but are unlikely to repeat because the trust and confidence once reposed in the government cannot be rekindled without any genuine ignition towards a constitutional change.
It’s a rallying cry that can still restore the government to power but not with the desired majority-back to the main square but with many minuses: not one step forward but rather two or more steps backward. It would have been a flight of steps down a spiral if there were a meaningful opposition to cash in on the situation.
In a waiting game is Mahinda Rajapaksa gambling with a timer in hand to release the germ as an election gambit? Or is there sheer laziness to be positive or the incapacity to strategise or not having a capable helmsman to deliver a draft? Otherwise, if the intentions were serious, the road show and the road map could have been unfurled and a distance traversed instead of being anchored at base camp in favourable weather.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is capable of master plans in his head that can succeed or flop but his antecedents show success is achieved more often as the conductor in his own one-man band. A helping hand from the UNP or TNA will never be forthcoming. Possibly he is craftily trying to fix the UNP and TNA in the same carriage and place the dual compartment on the parliamentary parade ground as the bogey cart. The UNP and the TNA, in no love match, will try to delay and defer constitutional changes till the term draws to an end to show the President he has let down his faithful flock and to make them lose faith in him in pleading for another term to reach the magic number; which sure will elude him in the present circumstances.
Are all the prime political parties trying to travel on a PSC multi visa? In the premise of the PSC, it is easy to delay than achieve, with slick coordination between the UNP,TNA, Muslim Congress and the ancient Left trying to take Mahinda Rajapaksa on a right royal ride? Time is running out for the President! Or will the President if constructive proposals are not forthcoming on a given time frame, place his own formula Bill before the PSC and have it sanctioned by the friendly parties in parliament in his fold? Then take the Bill before the People at a referendum on a question framed asking for a response on an “in or out” basis on the 13th Amendment. It is to be a PSC with an in-built purpose? That may be the catch that cannot be matched.
Supreme Court cannot deem a 2/3 majority is required where the people have already sanctioned the Bill at a referendum for it becomes law.If the referendum is free and fair no force on earth can wait without giving effect to the People’s desire. The Cabinet of Ministers can refer such a Bill to a referendum.
In our Constitution, it is no legal fiction that the supreme power is vested with people which makes the Supreme Court in name only supreme, compared to sovereignty that is vested in the People and which cannot be alienated: makes it on interpretation, more supreme. So says the Constitution in black and white.
Sovereign People in exercising their cherished franchise-there is no better route to determine the will of the people- do so by a majority vote. A majority vote is a vote won by more than one vote.
It’s a case of amending the constitution by going to the People for a Decision. J.R.Jayewardane once called for a referendum to disenfranchise the people by denying them their right to exercise their franchise at a general election. What did the Supreme Court do when democracy was in such peril? They said ‘’we agree’ to such a Referendum by a narrow vote. Such is the Supreme Court.
Instead, this time, make it totally hygienic and anti-septic to keep to the last letter of democracy-to avoid any comeback! JRJ’s referendum was not free and fair because the contortionist feared the People’s Verdict. On the 13th Amendment seek an open verdict. Go first to the People and seek their opinion. People are best judges on the 13th amendment. Daily Mirror’s opinion poll provided a genuine straw poll in a hostile environ. If so, the ultimate result is foreknown.
Lets play a game named Democracy according to the rules extolled by those who preach and complain we foul it; boldly access the People. Lets exploit it at the point we are strongest, by reaching for the People in the name of democracy. Ask the People a straight question and act according to the People’s direction. No man- white or brown - can bark bow-wow to that result. Of course, there will be a few like Jayalalitha and local NGO boys and girls (worthless names) that make a fast buck and will make a greedy noise for the buck. Who cares? Let the dogs bark, the caravans will move on.