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Remnants of 19A rampaging a ransacked nation

8 July 2019 12:11 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Even Two Siblings would end up quarreling under the ‘half-baked’ Amendment 

19A has provided a unique, but calamitous ‘power sharing by two heads’ arrangement

President Sirisena who wants 19A scrapped,

The judiciary hasn’t ruled all provisions in 19A as inconsistent

Two heads CANNOT hold equal or similar powers within an institution

 

Back to the People Before Chaos Reign Supreme... Sound incredible?, but it is the truth; a country that have been totally robbed, plundered and devastated by the politicians needs to go….
Among the few reformist provisions, like Right to Information; Independent Commissions, and restrictions on legal immunity of the Executive: 19A has provided a unique, but calamitous ‘power sharing by two heads’ arrangement -- a result of Parliament flouting Supreme Court’s ruling to hold a referendum, and go ahead with remnants of it.   
President Sirisena who wants 19A scrapped, must be having emotional memories of his ‘spend-the-day’ at Diyawanna Castle on April 28, 2015. He endeavored to ensure smooth sailing for it, like many others, who voted on that Amendment. He should remember the triumphant statement he made over the media claiming credit on his own role in getting the imperative piece of legislation adopted with an unprecedented majority in the house. True, he paced the lobbies in stirring member interest and wooing the UPFA members of both MS and MR factions, in a frantic effort to gather the required numbers for special majority of 150 votes the Prime Minister’s Minority government [the UNP had only 43 members in the house] expected him to deliver. Sirisena who arrived before parliament commenced sittings at 9.30 am, remained throughout the day to muster the support of UPFA members to get the 
Bill passed.   


As our sister paper, The Sunday Times reported on May 3, 2015,  Constitutional lawyer Jayampathi Wickremeratne PC, the chief architect in drafting the Amendment, along with some of his former LSSP colleagues garland Dr. NM Perera’s statue at the Ayurveda junction, — for it was NM who forewarned of the dangers in Executive Presidency, but it took four years for them to realize their ‘tinkering’ made it even worse. The Bill was presented on March 24, but owing to objections from the Opposition it was postponed twice finally taken for debate on April 27 and 28 and the vote was scheduled to be taken at 7.00 pm.   


The SC ruling left the Amendment ‘neither here, nor there’, creating two leaders with divergent thinking to share power in governing the country, carrying disastrous consequences. A nation suffers; it has already begun to attract foreign vultures and local hawks to scavenge on it. A half-baked, uncalled for and potentially dangerous draft was passed in Parliament on April 20, 2017 with 215 voting in favour. The loudmouthed Pohottuwa rebels voted en-masse too, albeit the former military man from East.  


Half-baked, since, certain clauses the Supreme Court ruled as inconsistent with the constitution were dropped without reverting it for redrafting or presented for sanction by the people at a referendum. Dr. Wickremeratnethe architect of 19A recently admitted its flaws, he said that his original draft should have been introduced. The intended transfer of executive powers from EP to PM [head of the government; head of the cabinet etc] were interpreted as inconsistent with Constitution. Shifting of Ministry Secretaries, allocation of departments and subjects among members of Cabinet under the tinkered 19A, continues to remain within the ambit of the EP and can be carried out at the whims and fancies of the Executive. It is only in appointment of ministers that he consults the PM. In a simple illustration, the President has to appoint X as Minister of Finance as recommended by PM, but he can allocate the Department of Education or Labour to X and bring the treasury, Central bank listed under Minister Y who is the Cabinet of Minister for Education or Labour.   

 

"Section 6 of the Amendment clearly states so which includes public security. What 19A introduce was only a check on executive powers that had survived over four decades while maintaining the basics of the presidential system"

 


The judiciary hasn’t ruled all provisions in 19A as inconsistent with the Constitution making it mandatory that it should be placed before the people in whom sovereignty reside. Most of the powers of the President are curtailed or restricted and in the exercise of the remaining powers, performing and discharging of his duties he is responsible to Parliament.  
19A  has introduced basic changes to the Constitution by making the EP answerable to the Parliament but the Parliament in turn not accountable to any authority: isn’t it a clear contravention of the doctrine of separation of powers?  


Nevertheless, some benefit has occurred to the country at the creation of the Constitutional Council through 19A, it is the responsibility commission to appointment commissioners and the individuals to the posts as per the schedule. But, would they work smoothly under an administration run by two feuding heads with little respect for each one’s responsibility? Absolute chaos would reign under the 19th Amendment if not for mutual respect and perfect understanding between the two heads. Do we have a Way out?  

Option 1

Hold a Referendum on original draft of 19A, along withPresidential Elections -- [saving extra cost]. It should carry an additional clause compelling registered political parties to obey a recommended structure and amended provisions for internal democracy.  

Option 2

Accept JVP’s 20A --Abolish Executive Presidency altogether; introduce 21A with drastic Amendments to 13A forced upon on Sri Lanka by our big neighbour.   
Quite a few presidential hopefulls have announced their intention to contest -- a second term for MS is now confined only to a dream. Yet it is not too late for the disgruntled man to change his attitude towards UNP faction of government, co-operate with Prime Minister in carrying out some development work which they wants to rush through after awakening from a deep slumber of four and a half years. MS can erase off some of his wrong-doings and regain his image as a democrat and retire honorably when he vacate the Paget Street now renamed after legendary poet, lyricist, playwright, artist, Mahagama Sekara who wrote, “Mage deshaya awadhi karanu mena piyanani…”.


Authoritarian policies of the Rajapaksa Regime compelled the floating voter to turn towards ‘Hansaya’ on January 8. The Amendment should be repealed. it is absolutely futile a to have a ceremonial head who is helpless while the country is being given out in pieces making this a fiefdom of power blocks.-- The economy is in tatters; masses live in poverty. An eleven months old toddler died of hunger; compensation due to be paid on victims of Easter Sunday bombs. 600,000 added to the list of poorest of the poor over the period while a particular class and politicos live in the lap of luxury: Corruption and robbery are rampant.  
We are having a public debate on 19A, coincidentally, a century after the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting the federal government from denying the right of the women to vote, that was passed on a special congressional session in May, 1919.

 

"Half-baked, since, certain clauses the Supreme Court ruled as inconsistent with the constitution were dropped without reverting it for redrafting or presented for sanction by the people at a referendum. Dr. Wickremeratnethe architect of 19A recently admitted its flaws, he said that his original draft should have been introduced"


Under the half-baked 19A, Cabinet of Ministers can be moved at the whims and fancies of the President if he does not agree with the Prime Minister similar to the shifting of Secretaries. The judiciary did not rule the 19A inconsistent with the Constitution making it mandatory that it should be place before for the people in whom sovereignty reside, though it has introduced basic changes to the Constitution by making the Executive answerable to the Parliament but the Parliament in turn not answerable to any authority. Parliament would not have been vested with such authority. An authoritarian establishment, be it Parliament or the President cannot be vested with such authority, it is a clear contravention of the ethics of separation of powers.   
Most of the powers of the President are Curtailed or restricted and in the exercise of the remaining powers, performing and discharging of his duties he is responsible to Parliament. Section 6 of the amendment clearly states so which includes public security. What 19A introduce was only a check on executive powers that had survived over four decades while maintaining the basics of the presidential system.  

Conflict Resolution

Would MS swallow his pride and renounce his own stated policy when he assumed presidency? Neither is prepared to give way, a deadlock is created. The whole governmental machinery had come to an impasse, a deadlock. Haven’t people got sick of this so-called democratic system; will they turn to other options, perhaps an alternative form of government?  
The ‘Battles Royal’ between the President and PM/ Parliament are not just the result of diverge political thinking, but individual selfish power-crazy nature of humans. Two heads CANNOT hold equal or similar powers within an institution; one can judiciously surmise a similar situation to crop up even between brothers of the same family if installed into the frame work of half-baked 19A. 


Only right action ultimately leads to success. Do something incorrectly, there’s every possibility to get discouraged when good results are not coming forth. And if good results are unexpected then why continue to pour our labor into something that is failing. So instead of thinking that doing something is good enough... we need to learn to do what is right and only then is it good enough. The old adage ‘something is better than nothing’ don’t just stand here; doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing. 19A, has produced“Something stupid than nothing at all”.   

A referendum or back to 1978 mode?  
The author can be contacted 
at kksperera1@gmail.com

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