President must consult the SC

When the members of the JO rushed to the President’s Office like a shoal of fish rushing to a fleshy bait (an apt simile from our classical literature) and when at the end of it Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that he had turned the entire parliament into a Constitutional Assembly I was so infuriated and disgusted that I condemned their action in no uncertain terms.

My objection to their participation was not on legal grounds but on political and moral grounds-namely on the fact that this was a regime come to power through an international conspiracy and had found a government illegally. The conspiracy that brought them to power is no secret. Tissa Vitharana a few days after the regime change came out with details of this conspiracy quoting Ashoka Mehta the Indian Defence expert, how the conspirators met with Chandrika in London 18 months prior to the elections and how they hit upon Sirisena just two months before it, all these sordid details were presented by Tissa Vitharana. Later the a story of a second meeting in Singapore attended by Chandrika, Sumanthiran, Champika etc at Arjuna Mahendran’s house was making the rounds in Colombo.

All this would have been known to the JO stalwarts. In such a situation I could not understand how they could take part in a meeting to frame a new Constitution. Did they lack the sagacity to see through this exercise? Did they not realize the purpose intended by those Western powers that brought those conspirators together to enact the regime change? Wasn’t the formulation of a new Constitution to divide the country, the first item of the agenda handed over by those Western powers? Even if it was not very obvious to begin with, it became loud and clear with every passing day. This could not have been lost on the JO.I cannot still come to terms with their behavior or fathom their motives. The only explanation that comes to mind is so uncharitable I dare not voice it.

Anyway,I see at the moment JO at the rallies coming out with the great dangers facing the country, its division and dismemberment with the imposition of the constitutional changes. Better late than never!

Had they right from the beginning taken up this issue, explained to the people the motive behind this constitution making, how it is bound up not only with the reconciliation process, but also with the charge of violation of human rights, the persecution of our soldiers, how we are being pressured by foreign powers to achieve their ends, there would have been no need by now to bring up any other issues-price of coconuts or even bond scams.There would have been such an upsurge of nationalist feelings that would have brought even the supporters of the Ranil –Sirisena regime into the JO’S fold. But did the JO act in such a manner? Did they have a single public meeting, a single seminar to enlighten the public? Did they join hands with the nationalist organizations that were spearheading this issue. If at all the impression created was that they were distancing themselves from the nationalist forces. When Wimal Weerawansa launched the Vyavasthamaraugula-constitutional death trap-campaign it was side lined and ignored.

At the moment I see President Sirisena exploiting the nationalist sentiments to hoodwink the Sinhala masses while Prabhakaran’s Elam songs are being played at the SLFP rallies and the Lion flag is replaced with the Elam flag. Hypocrisy has to be less transparent Mr. President!

At long last I find an attempt to question the legality of this constitution making process-the creation of the Constitutional assembly.

In October in an interview with the Daily Mirror, no less a person than the former Chief Justice, Sarath Silva stated that there was no provision in the Constitution to form a Constitutional Assembly.

He was followed by Wijedasa Rajapakshe, the former Minister of Justice who in a number of articles has pointed out the illegality of the constitutional assembly.

Apart from these two the only other person to have addressed his mind to this issue has been the young attorney-at-law Darshan Weerasekera. He has been at it and come out with two articles challenging the legality of the Constitutional Assembly. I understand that his second article has been presented to the president of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. So, it has drawn the attention of the world community which makes it imperative that we question the legality of this creation before we become the laughing stock in their eyes.

What I fail to understand is the attitude of our legal fraternity consisting of over a dozen PCS and so called legal luminaries regarding this issue. There appears to be no moral compunction on their part to address their minds to this issue which is of such national importance almost amounting to the question of survival of our nation. Surely, they cannot be that indifferent and callous. A cynic pointed out to me that they could not afford to be so indifferent at least for the sake of their own self interest, for the implementation of the constitution will reduce them from being President’s Counsel to Provincial Councillors, confined to a mere province!

It is a pity that we do not have any longer HLS and SL s –such selfless souls who were prepared to come to the defense of the nation at any cost. The other luminary who belonged to that group-Gomin Dayasri has remained silent and withdrawn, probably disillusioned with what is happening around. I can well understand it. We are now passing through the zenith of the age of deception (which I envisaged a few years ago and coined the word-bolpilima,-the hollow men)–where in the defining line separating truth from lies, deceit from honesty, morality from amorality has got blurred or has almost vanished and the highest in the land have turned out to be rogues parading in the Emperor’s Clothes with no shame or fear.

The argument put forward by the two eminent lawyers-Sarath Silva and Wijedasa Rajapakshe is that there is no provision in the Constitution for a Constitutional Assembly. Chapter 12 of the Constitution states the procedure to be followed in amending the Constitution. It does not state anywhere that the said amending process can be initiated by a resolution in parliament to convert it in to a Constitution assembly.

Dr. Rajapakshe in his article argues further on the dilemma faced by the parliament in entrusting its duty and obligation to a body which is not recognized by the Constitution. “At present we being the legislators, have lost the grip on the purported Steering Committee and the task has been taken over by highly paid so –called foreign experts NGO activists who patently act against the national interest in return for what they are paid by the foreign masters, some of whom have been advocating federalism. There is influence from Western countries where Tamil Diaspora is active and their efforts to interfere were defeated by some members of the committee. A question has now arisen as to what is the use of the Parliament if it entrusts its duties and obligations to an organ which is not recognized by the Constitution”.

Those in various forums who are supposed to be public intellectuals seem to be blind to this fraudulent exercise!

One need not be learned in the law which is after all codified common sense to realise the validity of the arguments put forward by these lawyers.

Not only these lawyers but a vast section of the public by now, after seeing the recommendations of some of the committees has realised the nature of this fraudulent exercise. They have also realised the ultimate motives of those perpetrators of this diabolic fraudulent exercise aimed at destabilizing and dividing the country.

Darshana Weerasekera in his third article has requested the President to invoke article 129 of the Constitution to consult the Supreme Court as to the legality of this constitution map making process. This suggestion will be endorsed by all right thinking people. This is a step that though taken now, should have been taken by the President before convening his three conferences-one with political leaders, one with religious leaders, and one with intellectuals. Before such conferences it is imperative for him to find whether what is being discussed is not illegal, and constitutionally correct.

I earnestly hope that the President who is out on a moral rearmament crusade would take this step with the Supreme Court as part of his Crusade.

There is urgency in seeking the views of the SC as there is a concerted effort to rush this Constitutional Council through Parliament soon after the provincial council elections. There must be immense pressure on the Government to get it through at the earliest. Mangala Samaraweera in fact announced that that there would be the new Constitution on the 4th opening of the Parliament. There is a tremendous effort on the part of the NGO circuit to get this through soon after the elections. R. Sampanthan, the leader of the opposition has been canvassing the support of the European Union and the dignitaries who visited this country recently to exert their influence on the government and get this through.

They would have been emboldened by the recent pronouncements of the PM. The PM addressing the Youth Parliament last week had this to say;

“The government would decide on the course of its action with regard to constitutional reform after the local government elections. We would make an effort to reduce the gaps between various proposals put forward by different groups. We would be looking towards devolvingmore powers to the provincial councils while bringing in laws to preventthe division of the country”.

In addition the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation held a one day conference for District Reconciliation committees appointed by the President.

Mano Tittawela Secretary General of this outfit who functions under the PM’S Office had this to say.

“Apart from the office of the Missing persons which has been established in law, two more of the reconciliation mechanisms approved by the Government, the Office of Repatriates and Truth Commission would be presented to the parliament and to the general public in the aftermath of the elections”.

This would be the shape of things to come and what is in store for us in the near future.

One promoter of this dreaded project has come out to explain the role of the electors in achieving this goal. “The optimistic scenario presented above will be possible if the parties of the government alliance do well at the forthcoming elections. If the SLPP which has been hostile to the reconciliation process as dividing the country and sacrificing it to foreign forces, outperforms the ruling parties and is able to capture a majority of local government authorities, the government’s ability to move forward on controversial issues will be crippled.

It is time for the President to prove what he has been saying all this time-. That he will never allow this country to be divided, the unitary state will be preserved for ever. The opportunity has come his way to prove his sincerity not by words but by action. The time to walk the talk has come.

He should forthwith seek the opinion of the Supreme Court as to the legality of the Constitutional Assembly”.

The JO must see that the people turn this election into a referendum not only on the performance of this government but also on this constitutional process aimed at dividing the country.

By Gunadasa Amarasekera

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