Namal on the ‘Draft Constitution’ | Sunday Observer

Namal on the ‘Draft Constitution’

Q. What is your take on the Draft Constitution that the expert panel has put together?

There is no such Draft because the government says there is no Draft but only talking material. But in the English version there is a water mark that says ‘draft constitution’. but the Sinhala and Tamil version has not said that, and at the same time the UNP has not given their stance on it, as to what they are looking for. they say everything in the Draft is what they believe in, but then they come to the Media and say that they oppose devolution.

Q. What clauses in the Draft specifically talks of dividing the country?

For me personally, I don’t have any faith in this Draft - none of the proposals we gave from our committees are there. but at the same time, I don’t think we should even talk about this because the UNP is not serious about it.That is because they have not given their opinion yet as to what their proposals are, as a Party. Subcommittee reports include all parties but not the UNP - they can’t get away like that. So they are trying to pass the ball onto the sub committees so that they can go to the South and say that the UNP never got involved in the devolution of the Consitution, but go to the North and say otherwise.

Q. What are these proposals that were given by your party?

None of the committees, except only Bandula Gunewardena (Financial committee) was there. He was the chairman of that committee. Myself, and Shehan Semasinghe gave our proposals for Law and Order, but none of those are there, and many other ideas given on the amendments are not even in the so called Draft.

Q. Why do you emphasize on this “UNP’s stance” when this whole procedure is a parliamentary one through the Constitutional Assembly?

The Constitutional Assembly has considered proposals given by all parties except the UNP. First they have to decide if they should go for devolution or a new constitution and the promise they made is the abolition of the Executive presidency, but there was no subcommittee on that topic. They have not been clear as to who the Head of State is, so that should have been the first sub committee - whether it is a parliamentary system or an Executive presidency. They keep skipping the fundamentals of the Constitution but keep talking about the rest.

On top of everything the JVP has not proposed a 20th amendment so it means that they don’t have faith in the Constitutional Assembly, that’s the understanding that I get. Because had they believed that the Constitutional Assembly would do its job, they would not bring an amendment.

Q. Did you vote for the resolution establishing the Constitutional Assembly, back in 2016?

-yes, we all voted. We agree that there needs to be constitutional amendments.

Q. Do you think amendments to the Constituton are sufficient or do you believe we need a fresh constitution?

Whatever the need is my only concern is rushing through it as we did with the 19th amendment. Today as a result of a rush and bringing constitutional amendments to satisfy individuals and to bar certain individuals from politics, the country came to a standstill. So the need for a Constitution or a Constitutional amendment can be dealt at a later stage but initially, the main parties have to decide what their policies are -you can’t say you’ve given this power to a committee to decide.

Q. What was your expectation of the Constitutional Assembly and do you think the purpose of initiating the process and establishing the CA was not met?

We expected the same thing. We knew they were just playing their cards and were not genuine about any reforms. and we realised that they are actually not trying to do any good to the country but merely to survive in parliament and satisfy certain politicians and their parties. And the constitutional council, or the new constitution, will not give three meals to the people - it won’t put food on people’s tables. They neglected the entire Economy and economic development but try to portray this as a priority and even that they’ve not managed to do.