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Lead the way for 19A - EDITORIAL

20 April 2015 05:14 am - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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This week, significantly placed between the National New Year and the thrice-blessed day of Vesak, may turn out to be a vital week in Sri Lanka’s history. We join the people of Sri Lanka in hoping for and urging political leaders and lawmakers to rise to the occasion, to rise beyond desires for personal gain or party interest and raise the hands or vote for the common good of all the people of our country. 
Coming up for debate and probably a vote in Parliament this week will be the crucial and much-awaited 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the country’s premier legal body, at a meeting on Saturday appealed to lawmakers of all parties to rise beyond selfish party interests and vote wholeheartedly for the 19th Amendment to restore and stabilise the rule of law and democracy, good governance and social justice in Sri Lanka. 
At an historic time such as this, political leaders and lawmakers need to act selflessly, sincerely and sacrificially in the way mother nature acts and the way great patriots did. The sun for instance, freely gives its power, energy and light to all as do the trees which bear fruits for others and rivers which run for the wellbeing of others. 
On Wednesday, to mark the 100th day of the Yahapalanaya administration, headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, all parties have been invited to a meeting at the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo.
They would be well-advised to reflect among other things on how Princess Viharamahadevi, before she married King Kavantissa, had offered to sacrifice herself to the sea, to save Sri Lanka from something similar to a tsunami. 
Since Independence, party politics in Sri Lanka have gradually degenerated to such low levels that most people justifiably believe that politicians are promise-makers and not promise-keepers. Most politicians have also earned a dubious reputation saying they have come to serve the people but in practice they become lords and masters, who not only dominate the people but also criminally plunder the national resources as we saw especially during the past five years. 
The much-loved singer Nimal Mendis who passed away last week perhaps echoed the plea of millions of people to their politicians, “Master Sir, when can I call you friend?” 
The Supreme Court, exercising and asserting its independence for the first time after the notorious 18th Amendment was implanted in 2011, ruled earlier this month that some clauses of the draft 19th Amendment would need not only a two-thirds majority in Parliament, but also approval by the people at a referendum. 
In the new spirit of democracy and good governance, the government gracefully accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling and said the relevant clauses would be deleted or amended. This was much in contrast to the earlier regime where VIPs were reported to have said they could get a Court Order changed through a telephone call. No more, never again this authoritarian high-handedness of yesterday. 
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on March 15 agreed to form a National Government, with the United National Party (UNP) so that a two-thirds majority could be obtained for important changes such as 19A. 
Since the beginning of this month, the SLFP – for national or party interest – has been insisting it would support 19A only if it was approved simultaneously with the 20th Amendment which provided for structural changes in the electoral process. 
The 20A, finalised last Friday by the SLFP, proposes a mixed electoral system that elects 231 members directly to Parliament. This is in addition to 29 members who will continue to enter Parliament through the National List. 
The total number of members will be 260. In this mixed system, 165 members will be elected on the First-Past-the-Post (FPP) basis from all the polling divisions in electoral districts and 66 members will be elected on the proportional representation (PR) system based on remaining votes. A Delimitation Committee will also be appointed. 
Obviously, SLFP’s 20A will need much more consultation, compromise and consensus. Since 19A is much more important, we hope it will be passed with the required majority and 20A passed later with the two amendments being implemented at the same time before the dissolution of Parliament. 

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  Comments - 3

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  • Darm Monday, 20 April 2015 08:15 PM

    !9A is a farce! It tried to get a man who could not win executive powers through an election to get that through back doors. MR made mistakes but he had the guts to do those and stand firm. Current jokers preach good governance but their actions are worst than dictators.

    Darm Monday, 20 April 2015 08:24 PM

    BASL should not get involved in politics. During the tenure of the last BASL president, he made BASL a cheap labour out fit that can be bought over.

    Nawaz Dawood Monday, 20 April 2015 10:24 PM

    Hopefully the powers taken out of the President is not vested on a minority prime minister who is also have no term limits. When these powers are vested in JR or Premadasa no one danced like this. We need a strong leader with decent powers. What we want is good people to run the country. Not the Thoppigala or Pakankada losers. We also do not want a guy who uttered that anybody can win wars who is at the helm of this government who crept in from the back door.


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