20A signals death knell for democracy – Vijitha Herath

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 24 2020

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Propaganda Secretary and Jathika Jana Balawegaya (National People’s Power) Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath reiterated that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified by this Government with a two-thirds majority, will signal the death knell for democracy. 

The gravity of ratifying this Bill will be felt by the people not now but only in the future, he added while addressing a media briefing at the JVP headquarters. 

“The Government deceived the electorate saying that the progressive clauses contained in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution will be retained through the 20th Amendment. But, this is not the case. They are determined to turn the Presidency into an all encompassing figure, more or less, a dictator, who will do whatever he or she pleases. The new Bill even exceeds the powers vested in the 1978 Constitution formulated by then President J.R. Jayewardene. The President will henceforth control the Parliament, the Judiciary and the Cabinet of Ministers. Those three institutions have been turned into puppets and what good will come through it, remains to be seen. The three main pillars of democracy, the Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive Presidency will not be functioning independently in the future. The Parliament and the Judiciary will be now under the thumb of the President as he makes crucial appointments”. 

“This Government ratified the new Bill with the support of certain MPs from the political parties helmed by Rauf Hakeem and Rishad Bathiudeen. If not for their support, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) regime would have struggled to pass this new Amendment in the House. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) was also bought over by this Government but their Leader before the vote shouted from the rooftops that there were no MPs in their ranks who would sell their soul. In the end, eight MPs betrayed the SJB Leader when the vote took place. That alone shows that the SJB Leader cannot even control his own MPs. He promises one thing to the people and does a totally opposing thing in the Parliament. Can such a person be entrusted with the reins of this country? This vote further exposed the MPs from the Opposition and the Government who would betray their souls for personal gains, perks and privileges. The vote for the 20th Amendment proved once again that neither the SLPP nor the SJB are the saviours of this nation’s democracy. They will sell their soul for a pittance”.

“The country’s influential Buddhist clergy even protested the introduction of the clause for the dual citizenship. But, this regime did not even heed the concerns raised by the Buddhist clergy and ratified it to enable a member of the Rajapaksa clan to enter Parliament. They all seek to concentrate power within one family and they are least concerned about resolving issues of the people,” he further claimed.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 24 2020

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