Sandasan Marasinghe & Camelia Nathaniel, in The Daily News, 22 September 2017, where the title is “Constitution formulated within a united, undivided, indivisible Sri Lanka: Sampanthan”
The process of formulating a Constitution for the country is being done within the firm framework of a united, undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka, said Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan yesterday.He also said that the successful conclusion of this Constitution making process on the basis of an acceptable reasonable and substantial national consensus would bring about a firm finality to this issue and Sri Lanka would perpetually be a united, undivided and indivisible country in keeping with the basic and Supreme Law of the country, and on the basis of the free will and consent of all its people.He made this observation following Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s presentation of the Interim Report of the Steering Committee before the Constitutional Assembly met in the Main Chamber of the House of Parliament.“We as parliamentarians are engaged in the process of making a Constitution – the basic Supreme Law for our country, on behalf of the people,” the Opposition Leader said.
“This is being done within the firm framework of a united, undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka. This is the framework within which the Constitution will be evolved and which all of us will voluntarily acknowledge and accept. The successful conclusion of this Constitution making process on the basis of an acceptable reasonable and substantial national consensus would bring about a firm finality to this issue.” He said that Sri Lanka would perpetually be a united, undivided and indivisible country in keeping with the basic and Supreme Law of the country, and on the basis of the free will and consent of all its people.
He also said that Sri Lanka which is inhabited by the Sinhalese,Tamils, Muslims,Malays,Burghers etc is a functional democracy, in which several political parties function. He added that while the two main political parties have alternatively formed the Government, other parties too have played their own role.
“No Constitution has thus far been framed for Sri Lanka on the basis of a substantial bi-partisan consensus amongst it’s different people in particular the Tamil people, or on the basis of such bi-partisan consensus between the two main parties and other political parties,” Opposition Leader Sampanthan said. “The present exercise in Constitution making presents the first such opportunity.A Constitution based upon such a reasonable consensus, would give the Constitution, a legitimacy and credibility.”
He also said that this would bring the Constitution out of the realm of political expediency and give the Constitution a character which would create the ideal of a Sri Lankan identity and a Sri Lankan nation. “We have not been able to achieve this in the 70 years since independence,” the Opposition Leader said.
He also said since 1987-1988, the Constitution making process has been a continuous process. He added that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was the first time when power sharing arrangements between the center and the Provinces, however weak, were incorporated in the Constitution. Sampanthan also added that ever since then, successive Presidents and Governments have come up with greatly improved proposals that could bring a final resolution of the national question. “During President R. Premadasa’s term there were the Mangala Moonesinghe Select Committee Proposals, during President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s term there were the August 2000 Constitutional proposals brought to Parliament with Cabinet approval,” the Opposition Leader said.
“During President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term there were the proposals formulated by the Multi Ethnic Committee of Experts appointed by him, and the Report of the All Parties Representative Committee headed by Prof. Tissa Vitharana, submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.” Sampanthan added that there was substantial consensus,around all those proposals, though for various extraneous reasons, they could not be incorporated into the Constitution.
He added that this process could be termed as a continuation of earlier processes, taking place in an altogether different environment, with every possibility of success, if all are reasonable and committed not to miss this opportunity. “Reasonable and acceptable Constitutional arrangements recognising their identity and dignity have been a longstanding goal of the Tamil speaking People,” said Opposition Leader. “There are many such arrangements the World over. Consequences of non-resolution have had diverse ramifications on the Tamil people and the whole country; educated qualified Citizens of this country particularly Tamils and Sinhalese have left this Country and taken residence abroad depriving this Country of a great deal of talent; the reputation of this Country has been greatly tarnished internationally having an adverse impact on the Country and its future in several ways; We need to salvage our reputation and win international respect.”
The Opposition Leader also said that the country’s economy has been greatly handicapped and has been left behind in the economic field, while other Countries in the region have progressed steadily enabling the Citizens of those Countries whose standard of living was lower than us to enjoy a much higher standard of living than we have in our Country, expenditure of vast sums on Defence has deprived us of substantial resources for development in several vital areas, contributing to backwardness.
“All these factors make it imperative that we create for our country, a new future, based upon a new supreme and basic law and that we jointly endeavour to succeed in the fulfillment of this sacred task,” Opposition Leader Sampanthan said.