Sampanthan: General election not needed to introduce a new Constitution


By Saman Indrajith

The new constitution should be passed in Parliament and taken before the people at a referendum and the people would decide whether it should become the supreme law of the country or not, and one did not need a general election for that, said TNA Leader R. Sampanthan in parliament yesterday.  

The TNA leader said that framing of a Constitution was a sacred duty. A resolution was passed in parliament converting parliament into a constitutional assembly to enable a constitution to be framed, a steering committee was appointed, seven sub committees were appointed and they had deliberated and all parties had participated in the deliberations before the steering committee and the sub-committees. "The objections that have been raised today were never raised before any one of those committees and now we have come to a stage where after almost three years of deliberations certain reports have been submitted to the house to decide what further needs to be done," he said, adding that he felt it should be approached with a certain amount of sanctity and seriousness and not flippantly.  

"I am sorry to observe that some of the submissions made this morning  by the opposition have been flippant, lacking in seriousness lacking in sanctity in keeping with the fact that we are endeavouring to promulgate a new constitution for the country which has been long called for. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual multi-religious and multi-cultural pluralistic society. Different races and religions live in this country and have lived for centuries and generations. We need to keep them united and all the people living in the country, irrespective of who they are, be it Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslims or Burghers, must have a sense of belonging to this country and that this country belongs to them and that they are one people. There must be unity in diversity. That is the objective in framing this constitution, to unite the people and bring them together, which we have not been able to do until now. We have not been able to constitute a Sri Lankan nation. For the reason that we have been divided, we have been dis-united. This constitution is intended to unite the people, to bring them together and enable them to feel that they all belong to one country and that the country belongs to them," he said.

Sampanthan pointed out that there were certain other advantages, apart from unifying and bringing the people together, which could be achieved under the new constitution through power sharing arrangements. "At the regional and provincial level, governance is not visible. Governance has to be more visible because then people can see what is happening. As a result of all power being kept in Colombo there is a great deal of waste and corruption, all of which can be eliminated if power is exercised at the regional and provincial level.

"There are people in this country who think they are patriotic, but I don’t think they are patriots. They are pseudo patriots who arouse chauvinism amongst the majority people to continue to be in power. It is my view that there is a symbiotic relationship between pseudo patriotism and corruption. People who have been downright corrupt when they were in power and have swindled this country.   This country has been impoverished by their actions and how can such persons be patriots? How can such persons be those who advocate something really good for the country? To them, patriotism is a shield for corruption," he said, adding that it was another reason why power should be devolved and exercised at the provincial or regional level.

He noted that the new constitution should be approved by a two third majority in parliament and taken before the people at a referendum and they would decide whether the bill should become the supreme law of the country or not.  

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