20th Amendment will set the record straight - Keheliya Rambukwella | Sunday Observer
Certain clauses of 19A failed miserably:

20th Amendment will set the record straight - Keheliya Rambukwella

6 September, 2020

Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said two-thirds of the people have mandated the Government to effect a Constitutional change as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is not progressive. Certain clauses of the 19th Amendment have failed miserably to fulfill the people’s aspirations. The 19th Amendment has become a stumbling block for a progressive future. Hence, the need to introduce the 20th Amendment as mandated by an overwhelming majority of the people, the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Asked what circumstances led the Government to abolish the 19th Amendment and introduce the 20th Amendment, Minister Rambukwella said there are certain clauses in the 19th Amendment which have created various difficulties in the affairs of the State. For example, the newly elected President who is also the Head of State is vested with the responsibility of national security including the security of every citizen. Although this responsibility is cast on the Executive President, he was not free to exercise his authority. Therefore, it was opportune for us to take corrective measures in terms of a Constitutional change. That is exactly what we have done.

The Minister said the President is elected by all citizens. When there are no remedial measures in place to carry out the state of affairs of the President, it was incumbent on us to take steps to overcome the shortcomings in the 19th Amendment.

Minister Rambukwella said the so-called independent Commissions far from being a reality, showed repeatedly that they were not independent at all when performing their duties. The 19th Amendment became a redundant piece of legislation. Obviously, there are certain parts of it which are acceptable but not fully. Therefore, certain provisions in the 19th Amendment such as the restrictions imposed on the tenure of the Presidency for five years, the term of office of the President limiting to a maximum of two terms and the Right to Information Act will continue to remain in the 20th Amendment. However, most of the contents in the 19th Amendment have been dropped. There are many salutary features in the 20th Amendment such as the President being empowered to handle national security.

Commenting on SJB’s decision to challenge the 20th Amendment in the Supreme Court, Minister Rambukwella said that it will be as per the provisions of the Constitution. That is their business. It will be either upheld or not by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will eventually convey its determination to Parliament.

The Minister said they are quite confident that the Government could secure a two-thirds majority in Parliament to pass the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Asked whether there will be Opposition MPs to support the 20th Amendment, the Minister said, of course, there could be a ray of hope. Despite different views eventually collective responsibility will prevail, he said.