Speaking at the Abeyarama Temple in Narahenpita, Rajapaksa said that while controversies have emerged about the procedure to be adopted in making changes to the Constitution he believes the Government will be flexible on this matter.
Rajapaksa noted that his election manifesto for the 2015 Presidential election “Mahinda Chintana lowa dinana maga” also pledged to take steps to formulate a new constitution for Sri Lanka.
“Earlier in 2011, my Government had appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee under the chairmanship of Nimal Siripala de Silva to look into the changes that need to be made to the constitution including changes relating to the Executive Presidential system. That responsibility now lies with the present Government. The single most important pledge on which the present Government was elected into power was the abolition of the Executive Presidential system. The 19th Amendment to the constitution passed last year purported to reduce the powers of the Presidency, but the Executive powers of the President still remain intact,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that the preamble of the resolution introduced in parliament last Saturday by the Prime Minister repeatedly stressed that the main objective of the new Constitution would be to abolish the Executive Presidential system and to institute electoral reform. These objectives should receive our fullest support. The Executive Presidential system was mired in controversy from the beginning. The SLFP opposed it even when it was first instituted. Now when the very UNP that created this position is putting forward proposals to abolish it, we in the SLFP cannot oppose it. Furthermore, it’s a nephew of J. R. Jayewardene, the founder of this system who is putting forward proposals to abolish the Executive Presidential system,” he said.
He also said that the devolution of powers in the new Constitution should not exceed the provisions of the 13th Amendment that have been implemented at present and there should also be no merging of provinces.
“Appendix I of the Ninth Schedule of the present constitution which was introduced through the 13th Amendment outlines the police powers accorded to the provincial councils. If these provisions are implemented, the national police force as we know it will cease to exist and all important day to day police functions will pass onto nine separate provincial police forces. I wish to suggest that while such a system may work in a large country like India where the states are bigger than most other nations, it cannot be practically implemented in a small country like Sri Lanka. Indian states such as Tamil Nadu which are several times the size of Sri Lanka have only one police force,” he said.
Rajapaksa warned against trying to implement systems that are in place on a sub-continental scale within the Union of India in a country like Sri Lanka which is smaller than some of the smallest Indian states. (Colombo Gazette)