Abolishing 19A not the solution - Dr Wickramaratne

27 June 2019 - 50   - 0

While there are problems with the 19th Amendment, abolishing it altogether is not the solution, Parliamentarian Jayampathy Wickramaratne said yesterday. 

By Sandun Jayawardena

While there are problems with the 19th Amendment, abolishing it altogether is not the solution, Parliamentarian Jayampathy Wickramaratne said yesterday. 

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Dr Wickramaratne, who said he assisted a Cabinet Sub Committee that helped draft the 19th Amendment, noted that going backwards was not the solution to resolve the current issues between the Executive and the Legislature. 

Dr Wickramaratne insisted that the main reason for the present problems concerning 19A was due to the original draft amendment being diluted in the face of pressure from the UPFA and SLFP. As the UNP did not even have a simple majority in Parliament at the time, there was no other way to approve it without acceding to the demands of various parties, he said. 

The amendment was further diluted when it came to the Committee Stage, with provisions to prevent crossovers by MPs being scrapped while the composition of the Constitutional Council was also changed to ensure that politicians, instead of civil society representatives, had the majority, he further added. 

"The PM objected to this at the time, saying he could not face Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera if the 19th Amendment is diluted in such a manner. However, I spoke to the Thera and he told me it would be better to go forward even with a diluted bill as otherwise, it will never get done. 

Dr Wickramaratne also refuted claims made by President Maithripala Sirisena earlier in the day that 19A was drafted according to the agenda of NGOs and was a curse on the country. He pointed out that reducing the powers of the Executive Presidency was one of the main pledges of the Government that came to power on January 8, 2015. 

He said the President should be credited for working hard to get 19A passed and had even gone behind MPs from the UPFA and SLFP, going to the extent of calling them 'Machan' as he tried to persuade them to vote for the amendment. 

The best way out of the crisis was to further strengthen 19A, he observed, adding that going backwards was not the solution. 

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