Jun 25, 2019

Prime Minister would also not be given arbitrary powers - Jayampathy Featured

The Constitution should not be made in a manner where the Executive Presidency is abolished and all powers are vested with the Prime Minister or the Parliament, said MP Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne.

He made this statement during a Face Book interview with BBC on Monday afternoon (24).

Currently, there is much being discussed about the statement made by the President that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution should be abolished for the good of the country.
“The intention of the 19th Amendment was to remove the arbitrary powers of the President. What we say is that these unlimited powers should not be given to the Prime Minister or the parliament either,” he said.

Dr. Jayampathy noted that while independent commissions, which are answerable to parliament were established through the 19th Amendment, if these commissions are to be truly independent, then the officials appointed to them should also be appointed independently.

“In countries like the US or France there are historical presidential systems. Yet, this presidential system operates under certain checks and balances. But that was not what existed in Sri Lanka. What we had was a presidential system without these checks and balances,” he said.

Was the 19th Amendment brought in without the knowledge of the President?

It was questioned whether the 19th Amendment had been brought in without the knowledge of the President. In response, Jayampathy Wickramaratne said that the President had extended great effort to have the 19th Amendment passed.

“At that point he took great effort to obtain the support of the SLFP members. We held several rounds of talks with the President in this regard. Through these discussions and the impact of the SLFP the Amendment was diluted,” said Dr. Jayampathy, adding that the best solution is to move forward and not go back.

"Sobitha Thera’s dream must be realised”

“Sobitha Thera had a dream to remove these arbitrary powers. Similarly, Dr. N.M. Perera foresaw the future and warned about the repercussions of the executive presidency. On October 26th last year we clearly experienced that. On the day of Sobitha Thera’s funeral the President made a promise to fulfil his dream and we should fulfil that promise.”

Constitution and Buddhism: “Sri Lanka is a secular state” -Jayampathy

He said that in his view a new Constitution should be brought in.

Dr. Wickramnaratne also said that the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to investigate the Easter Sunday attacks is in no way an attempt to sling mud at the President.

“It is the opposition MPs who were most keen on this committee. Moreover, the committee proceedings have been opened to the media because the people have a right to know who should be held responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks. In the future, not just this committee but there are proposals to even open the COPE Committee to the media. The parliamentary system would become stronger and more independent only by creating this openness.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Jayampathy also stated that he and his party the LSSP, would support any Presidential candidate who could take the country forward.