A new Constitution for Sri Lanka? | Sunday Observer

A new Constitution for Sri Lanka?

After visiting Asiri Surgical Hospital for medical treatment, I got on to the train at the Wellawatte station at 2.36pm to return home to Panadura. I had a corner seat in a less crowded compartment. During this time of the day, the trains are not that safe as often thieves snatch gold chains during this time. Therefore I selected my seat carefully in a compartment with some men in it, hoping that they will help me, if the need should arise.

They were from different walks of life. From what I overheard and gauged, one was from the Railway Department and another from a state Ministry. Another was probably a mechanic attached to a private company. The friend of this guy was a small-scale businessman from Moratuwa.


They had met somewhere else and were now seated together after getting on to the train. Another guy was chatting with them but I could not guage his identity. He probably was the most educated guy of the group, holding a high position in an institution. I gathered this from his appearance and his contribution to the discussion that was taking place. The last one was a fisherman with some smelly fishing instruments. He was standing near the group guarding his stuff.

The discussion was about the best possible Constitution for Sri Lanka. Although I was eavesdropping, I wanted to listen because I wanted to know what ordinary people think about the Constitution and their views on the current political situation. The discussion had already started when I took my seat. May be I had missed a few minutes. With the fishy smell engulfing my nostrils, I eves-dropped.

The most educated (according to my guesswork) started to talk. “This country needs a very strong President, a President stronger than all the previous. We must amend the Constitution to give more powers to him/her. When the entire country is divided into various camps and try to implement their own hidden agendas, the person who gets elected as the President must be able to provide leadership. He must be elected from the direct votes of the people, for a fixed time period.”

“Hmmm.....I also think it should be the best way of protecting this country from persons and groups with their own private hidden agendas,” said the person who works for a private company as mechanic. “Otherwise ...the people of this country will not be able to have their own will. They will have to watch their representatives getting sold and getting rich all the time and they will not be able to change them. They will do what they want and not what we want,” he said.

“The other thing Machang.....we need all our representatives to get elected by our votes. No one should be allowed to go to Parliament any other way, like from the socalled ‘National List’.

All those who go to Parliament through this type of loophole are crooks who dance according to someone else’s tune or make money for themselves! We should elect all 225 representatives. We can even reduce the number of seats in Parliament to around 125 or 200,” said his friend.

“Yes, these stupid ‘other ways’ of getting into Parliament should be removed from the Constitution. They must face the people and get their vote to come to Parliament again. They will think twice before making people suffer.”

Salaries Commission

“Another thing Machang....the Constitution should be above everything. It should not be something that needs interpretation. It should be a small document of 100 pages or less. The MPs should not be paid a pension and their salaries should be decided by the National Salaries Commission. They should be treated like ordinary citizens and all those special facilities - medical, special food, special allowances for telephone bills, transport, electricity bills and water bills should be removed.

All losses caused by them should be charged from them or their family members. Their retirement age should be 60”, said the businessman.

The fisherman then joined the conversation “Mahaththayo...we innocent and poor people need to live. We do not care about anything else. But if anyone tries to kill us by not allowing us to live on our daily earnings, we will not hesitate to kill them or at least chase them away using our vote. Mahaththayo we ask for our lives....not anything else.We need to go to sea and fish to feed our children,” he said.

He got off the train at Koralawella station with his fishing gear and I got ready to get off at mine.