20A could mean death of democracy
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Imthiaz Bakeer Markar yesterday (21) said in Parliament that he is of the opinion that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is also against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill, which takes away all his powers and makes the Premier’s post a nominal one.
Participating in the debate on the 20th Amendment Bill, he said: “I do not agree with the conduct of Prime Minister Rajapaksa. But his charisma helped you (the Government) to come to power. Now, you are trying to make his post like that of a puppet. He helped you to gain the power you all have today, but this is how you treat him. I know that deep inside, he is also with us (the Opposition).”
“We have to do the right thing, no matter how difficult the circumstances are. That is why we vote against this Bill. We cannot raise our hands in support to a thing which could be the death of democracy. Let me tell you that those who raise their hands in support to this Amendment will be the ones who will suffer because of it in the future,” he added.
Speaking further, Markar said that it is questionable as to why the Government needs to so badly pass the Amendment in a hurried manner, without giving a chance for the people to raise their concerns.
“Many parties have raised their concerns regarding this Amendment and how this will affect the country. The President has all the power. He has the two-thirds majority in Parliament as well. The Parliament should be summoned to discuss about how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic. But here, we discuss about a Constitutional Amendment without talking about our people who are becoming jobless and victims of poverty. Even then, the Government wants to pass this hurriedly without giving the people to discuss about it.
We passed a horrible past where politicians owned the Police and the law enforcement authorities. There was a time when a woman was made to walk after stripping her clothes on roads during an election. After establishing independent commissions, we never witnessed such situations. Now, this Amendment tries to abolish those Independent Commissions and have all the power centred to one person. Why are we doing this? A person could be a terrible dictator when he is given unlimited power. Why are we going towards a dictatorship?” he queried.