The proposed new Constitution of Sri Lanka should be the product of the entire 21 million people of the country and not a chosen few, a trade union movement has said.
The Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees' Union (FTZGSEU) in a public statement which called for the new Constitution framework proposal to be through a “People’s Process” has urged the government to present a work plan without any further delay to carry out the total programme of “socialising the Constitution making process”.
In a lengthy statement tracing the reaction by various groups to the proposed new Constitution, the union rejected claims by the Joint Opposition and supporting groups saying a framework resolution was a set of proposals submitted by the government.
“All proposals (were) agreed upon by the Steering Committee consisting of 21 MPs representing all the political and ethno religious diversities in parliament. It not only consists of both government and opposition members, it has Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim representations and also the JO representation with MPs Dinesh Gunawardene and Prasanna Ranatunge. Thus, it was a consensual framework resolution from the Steering Committee that was presented in parliament. Protests that are being engineered in the South ignore this parliamentary consensus and tend to project the framework resolution as a draft for a new Constitution,” the statement added.
The union movement said that while every citizen has the right to argue for or against any provision during the process of making a Constitution. That has to be organised and mobilised consciously into diverse representations of opinions by the government in ensuring the widest participation of the people in creating a new and modern Constitution.
It said, because the isolated Constitution making process of this government didn’t have any people's participation it provided space for a very destructive extremist Sinhala Buddhist ideology in society. Within this Sinhala Buddhist extremism, some former high officers in the army who enjoyed unquestioned power during the war, have started using proposals for the Constitution to justify killing of those who oppose their point of view, the FTZGSEU said.
“Constitution making should not allow such uncivilised interventions. These are no interventions for future benefit. These interventions would only create more divisions and rivalry in pushing this country into racial and religious conflicts. Instead of drafting a modern advance Constitution for the future these interventions are hate campaigns calling for mass murder of racial and religious communities that in any civilised society would warrant for immediate arrest,” the union noted.
It urged the authorities to distribute widely the framework resolution prepared by the Steering Committee in all three languages as a booklet; organise a serious discussion with all social organisations; invite mainstream trade unions to forward comments and proposals; invite all Provincial Councils to provide their proposals to the framework resolution and thereafter develop the final draft of the Constitution and make it public.
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