Enactment of Constitution would have been advantageous to govt. -MP Wickremaratne

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Government MP and a key proponent of a new Constitution Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne yesterday emphasized that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe led unity administration could have done much much better at the recently concluded local government polls had it succeeded in introducing a new Constitution.

Dr. Wickramaratne said so in response to The Island suggestion that the UNP and the SLFP would have suffered a far worse defeat if the government had pursued constitutional reforms process far more vigorously.

Dr. Wickramaratne represents the United Left Front (ULF) in parliament.

Asked by The Island whether it would be realistic to expect President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe to work together in the wake of the former’s attempt to remove him, Dr. Wickramaratne insisted they couldn’t absolve themselves of their responsibility to implement 2015 mandate.

ULF fielded candidates on the SLFP (hand symbol) and UPFA (betel leaves) ticket and at Kuruvita, Panwila and Ruwanwella contested on its own and backed an independent group.

The constitutional expert insisted that the enactment of a new Constitution was a priority and responsibility, the unity government couldn’t give up.

The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council in late June 2016 prescribed a new Constitution subjected to a referendum as part of the overall measures to address accountability issues.

ULF member Chameera Perera said the unity government had to pay a very heavy price for being ungrateful to those who exercised their franchise believing killers and robbers would be punished expeditiously. Declaring that there had been a spate of incidents not connected to the war against the LTTE, Perera said that none of those who had been responsible for the assassination of The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga on January 8, 2009, killing of national rugger player Wasim Thajudden May 17, 2012, disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda on the eve of January 26, 2010 presidential poll and massacre of remand prisoners at maximum security Welikada prison on Nov 9, 2012 were punished. The voters reacted had reacted angrily towards an ungrateful government, Perera said.

Asked by The Island whether the families, loved ones and those who now enjoyed permanent peace, too, felt betrayed by the government’s pathetic failure to defend the armed forces in the wake of the House of Lords having been told 40,000 Tamil civilians didn’t perish as alleged by various interested parties, Perera said that newspaper had the right to interpret the situation the way it desired. As far as the post-war killings and the accountability of those who had been in power were concerned, the issue raised by The Island was irrelevant, Perera said.

Perera alleged Sinhala villagers of Panama had been chased out on the orders of the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and some temples demolished following the conclusion of the war.

The Island insisted that Chameera hadn’t responded to the query. When the ULF official was told that co-cabinet spokesman Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, too, had taken a similar stand a few months ago when the failure on the part of the government to utilize Lord Naseby’s revelations was pointed out, Perera asserted that the issues weren’t connected.

The media pointed out how the government had earned the wrath of the vast majority of people by sacking UK based Defence Attache Brig. Priyankara Fernando recently over an incident outside the Sri Lankan HC in the UK.

Perera said that their party members loved the country. Perera denied allegations that they thrived on continuing political instability.

Asked for an explanation why they still continued to count the number of votes polled by those political parties namely the UNP, the JVP, the TNA, the SLMC et al who formed 2010 alliance that campaigned on the basis of unproved war crimes allegations for war winning Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the presidential poll, Perera said that the UNP and SLFP polled more than Rajapaksa.

Perera didn’t respond to the query why TNA Sampanthan urged the Tamil electorate to vote for Fonseka after having accused his war winning army of massacring the innocents.

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