People’s aspirations for system change in governance incorporated in SJB’s 21 A: Eran


SJB Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne said that if the government has a  genuine need to bring in a system change as demanded by the people across the country it is high time for the government, to bring in the amendment proposed by the SJB to parliament with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.

If the Parliament agrees then we can agree on when we can hold a referendum as required by the law. The referendum can also be held along with a general election.

Wickramaratne briefing the media at the Office of the Leader of Opposition yesterday said that the first reading of 21A was made on the 17th of May and now it’s before the Supreme Court of the country to decide whether it is consistent with the constitution. By 15th June, there would be a verdict on whether it needs a two-third majority in Parliament and/or the people’s approval at a referendum.

Eran Wickramaratne alleges that on the contrary to this process the government is trying to push, a hitherto unseen bill, calling it the 21 st Amendment, but actually, it should be 23 rd Amendment as already there are two bills calling 21 and 22 amendments to the Constitution. SJB proposal is the 21 A and the private member’s bill by Wijedasa Rajapakasa has been enlisted as the 22 Amendment and the government proposal, when it is presented after having obtained the consensus among their coalition partners and the Cabinet Approval in the future will be earmarked as the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution.

But, the MP said that the government’s proposal is going to take a long time as there is no consensus yet within the governing party itself. It has a long way to go before the first reading probably possibly the end of June before being considered at the Supreme Court.

There is a possibility to present in Parliament after having gone through the administrative and judicial process earliest the 9th of August for the 2nd reading. Unless the government in some way decides to block the passage of SJB’s 21 A it could be approved earlier to find the desired solution to the deadlock in creating political stability in the country.

“This is the response to the agitation across the country for a system change and the abolishing the executive presidency. That is why we have presented this Bill and we are telling the government that we are open for a referendum as the people’s will must be established in the country ” The MP said

Further elaborating on the proposed 21 A, Wickramaratne said the SJB bill does not allow dual citizens to be in parliament or in Executive positions. But we welcome the participation of dual citizens as investors or run their businesses. But when it comes to governing the country the SJB is absolutely clear that only citizens of this country govern the country. This is the only answer for the conflict of interest faced by the dual citizens.

Constitutional Council is being brought in and will be rebalanced with equal numbers of MPs and the non-MPs as its members. Check and Balances will be upheld in the Presidential nominations for higher posts whether the nominees are fit and proper based on their performance and suitability. If not the Council will ask the President to nominate another person. 

He explained that the recent appointment of the Governor of the Central Bank by the President at his own will is a good example to prove the necessity of maintaining check and balance. If there had been an independent constitutional council the person appointed to CBSL by the President would have been never appointed. It is a clear example to prove the mess the country has fallen into in the absence of a line of separation of powers via a check and balances. Other independent commissions such as Audit Commission and the Procurement Commissions have also been incorporated under the proposed 21A.

This country is corrupt and the corruption must be arrested that is why the country needs an Audit Commission and Independent procurement commission as an answer to the public agitation across the country against this corrupt government.

SJB has also thought of bringing in new laws that were already drafted in 2019  to make Assets and liabilities public and to make the bribery commission independent. Then the [politicians and high officials can be tried in a short period of time and punished if found guilty. The stolen assets recovery act is another piece of legislation the SJB is formulating to introduce, and this would help to recover the wealth and assets hidden even overseas, real estate, or in foreign currency assets. This law will enable bringing back the national assets lost by way of corruption and theft by politicians and high officials.

Wickramaratne declared that there will be a new feature of establishing a national security council by the constitution itself where the Prime Minister will be made a member. This was prompted by the vacuum created in 2019 when the easter bomb attack took place the Prime Minister at that time said that he was not invited to the national security council meeting. This was due to the national security council being operated by the President by looking at the faces of the people and taking the decision whether they should be invited to the security council at his whims and fancy.

Wickramaratne stated that the 21Amendment by the SJB gives the constitutional recognition to the National Security Council to which even the SLPP government has not acted to tighten the national security though they were making big noise on the national security of the country at the time of elections.

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