The 20th Amendment should not be proceeded with in its entirety and instead a new Constitution should be the national priority at this moment, the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) said today.
The statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference is as follows:
In the wake of the change of government following the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka is constrained to share its grave concern to protect the sacredness of the state that transcends the mutable political and governing bodies.
The 1978 constitution changed primarily the Westminster type cabinet democracy to an executive presidency. Since then the 19th Amendment has been made citing various reasons. However, one cannot deny that the main reasons have been to ensure economic growth, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the island nation.
Apparently the projected 20th Amendment under consideration does not seem to put forward any other rationale for this move.
Whether it is an amendment or the drafting of a new constitution the sovereignty of the people should always be safeguarded and protected.
In all probability the contents of the 20th Amendment will find its way into the envisioned new constitution.
It is imperative then to closely examine the proposed 20th Amendment before it is voted upon in Parliament. The executive presidency has been the bone of contention since it was created in 1978.All elected Presidents since 1994 vowed to abolished the Executive Presidency with powers vested in it by the 1978 constitution and transfer power to democratically elected Parliament, but none had the political will do so for reasons not unknown to the people.
We need to emphasize that concentration of power in an individual without checks and balances does not auger well for a democratic, socialist republic.
A two thirds majority of members in Parliament based on political parties does not necessarily manifest the true conscience of the people.
Therefore let the entire membership of Parliament and independent constitution council comprising a majority of men and women of proven integrity form the society who will take care of the drafting a new constitution which ensures transparent democracy , the rule of law and the equity of all citizens.
It is our view that rules need not to be changed due to the vagaries and inconsistencies of individual players, but to identify and elect or appoint suitable persons who will abide by the rules to safeguard truth, justice, and the well-being of the country.
It is the bounden duty of the democratically elected Parliament to create wholesome governing structures capable of moving the country forward. The drafters must be aware to plug the loopholes that lead to multiple interpretations. Greater clarity is needed if the constitution is to serve the citizenry.
Thus the 20th Amendment should not be proceeded with, in its entirety, and instead a new Constitution peeds to be the national priority at this moment.