19A helped Ranil not the people – Ali Sabry
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake
Justice Minister, President’s Counsel M.U.M. Ali Sabry, moving the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill for the second reading stage debate, said the United National Front-led regime did not bring in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution for the sake of the people.
“The Amendment helped the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who could not win an election, to usurp some powers of the Presidency and savour them,” he said.
He said the primary purpose of the 19th Amendment was to transfer some Presidential powers to the post of the Prime Minister so that Wickremesinghe who could not win at an election and be the President could enjoy some of the powers of President.
“The 19th Amendment had nothing for the people’s benefit. That is why the creators of that Amendment are not to be seen today. People learned the truth and voted them out,” he said.
Minister Ali Sabry said that the Executive President under the 20th Amendment would not enjoy more powers than the powers vested in that post by the 1978 Second Republican Constitution. “When we compare the Constitutions, the 1978 Constitution has the Presidency with highest concentration of powers. Subsequent Amendments had reduced some of those powers and the 19th Amendment did worse. The 20th Amendment would restore those powers of the Presidency. Our attempt is to enable the President to exercise the people’s power once again,” he said.
“The 19th Amendment not only rendered the post of the President impotent but also disabled National Security. Take for example the Easter Sunday carnage which is being investigated at present on several forums including a Commission. Now there is no one responsible. Various parties and individuals go before this Commission and try to place the blame on others. No one is taking the responsibility. It is clear that we cannot move forward in this manner. We have to do away with the 19th Amendment for the sake of the people.
Former Presidents J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, D.B. Wijethunga and Chandrika Kumaratunga ruled the country under the provisions of the 1978 Constitution. Were they dictators? The 20th Amendment would not give any more powers to the Presidency than the Presidential powers in the 1978 Constitution”.