“New Constitution, more appropriate to address current situation” | Sunday Observer

“New Constitution, more appropriate to address current situation”

5 June, 2022

Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, a legal luminary and human rights activist, appealed yesterday to lawmakers in Parliament to bring in draft Constitutions of 2015 and 2019 to pave the way for the establishment of a new Constitution, which he said would be more appropriate to address the country’s current situation on a firm footing.

He said that although he supports the 21st Amendment which Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapkshe is trying to make law in achieving political stability, the chances are it could create an uneasiness between the Opposition and the ruling political party resulting from a triangular power struggle which could manifest among the Executive powers, the powers of the Prime Minister and the Speaker as the Chairman of the Constitutional Council that appoints members to the independent commissions. 

“We have experienced the level of the threat of this triangular power struggle before with the 19th Amendment,” he said. 

Dr. Mahananamahewa, a former professor of the University of Technology, Jamaica, was responding to the Sunday Observer’s question about whether the 21st Amendment Bill could lead to political or economic stability in the country.

“The nation demands smooth functioning of accountability and transparency from the Government, as well as system change,” he said.

“The people will dismiss an Executive President just as they would dismiss an Executive Prime Minister.” “This is where all Parliamentarians must be extremely cautious as they commit to transferring Executive powers to empower the Prime Minister,” he said.

“On the contrary, without electoral reforms, there is no way of achieving system change.” People will be unable to elect the right public representatives unless electoral reforms are implemented under a new Constitution.”

Without electoral reforms, the people will not be able to choose the right public representatives of their choice.” 

When asked if the ruling political party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), should support the proposed 21st Amendment, Dr. Mahanamahewa said that SLPP MPs have not discussed anything worthwhile in Parliament for the past 25 days, aside from requesting compensation for their damaged houses and property.

“The times demand that they come up with solutions to the country’s economic crisis and think about it seriously from the perspective of the people rather than from the position of their ruling party for the sake of the country’s future,” he said.

‘I recommend that Parliamentarians get together and bring the previously drafted Constitution to the fore,’ he said, adding that ‘they can achieve this in about five or six months.’

We asked Dr. Mahanamahewa what aspects of the 21st Amendment Bill he finds appealing, he said, “The independent commissions, as well as the procurement and audit commissions will be established under it,” he said.