Gevindu faults Prez, PM over deferred 22 A Written on . Posted in Local.
‘House in a pathetic situation’
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The shocking postponement of a two-day debate, and the vote on the proposed 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, that was to be held on Oct. 06 and 07, would further erode public confidence in the Parliamentary system of governance, SLPP National List MP Gevindu Cumaratunga said on Thursday (06).The ruling coalition blocked the debate, regardless of the consequences, though the party leaders, at a meeting chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, earlier in the day, decided to go ahead with the debate, outspoken lawmaker Cumaratunga told the media.
The civil society activist blamed President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Premier Dinesh Gunawardena for holding up the process.President Wickremesinghe’s special statement on his recently concluded visits to the UK, Japan and the Philippines, and related matters with the focus on the economy, was meant to put off the scheduled debate, MP Cumaratunga said. The President of the Yuthukama civil society organization questioned the need to deliver a statement at the expense of a matter of utmost national importance. The irate lawmaker said that he was quite disappointed at the disgraceful way the government parliamentary group plotted to shelve the scheduled debate.
Pointing out that UNP leader Wickremesinghe, during his brief tenure as the Prime Minister (May 12, 2022-July 20,2022), consulted all political parties and was able to reach a general consensus regarding the 22nd Amendment, MP Cumaratunga asked whether President Wickremesinghe changed his priorities after receiving the presidency.The Parliament on July 20 elected Wickremesinghe as the President to complete the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term.
Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that the postponement couldn’t be justified under any circumstances as the top leadership of the government repeatedly assured the country of their intention to enact 22nd Amendment. Such broken promises should be examined against the backdrop of the ongoing unprecedented political-economic-social crisis, MP Cumaratunga. Asserting that the government caused itself immense harm, the MP alleged the powers that be missed another opportunity to strengthen parliamentary democracy.
MP Cumaratunga said that the proponents of the proposed new law were quite happy when President Wickremesinghe arrived at the parliament. “I felt the President was there to influence the government parliamentary group as well as other supporters. But, the President didn’t at least bother to mention 22nd Amendment when he addressed the parliament, the MP said. The President actually avoided the issue at hand,” MP Cumaratunga said. The first time entrant to parliament described the government strategy as well as the latest developments in parliament as tragic.Strongly condemning those who opposed 22nd Amendment on the basis of various concerns, MP Cumaratunga urged the government to conduct the two day debate and the vote on 20 Amendment at the next parliamentary session later this month.
The MP stressed that what really matters is the 22nd Amendment reduced executive powers, thereby strengthened the Parliament. Responding to The Island queries, MP Cumaratunga urged political parties and groups represented in parliament to take what he called overall national interests into consideration without seeking their petty political and personal advantages. The MP recalled how the dual citizenship issue inflicted catastrophic damages to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government and contributed to the rapid decline of that administration leading to the ultimate collapse in July this year.
Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that even Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, too, was a victim of the government strategy. The MP claimed that the chief mover of the 22 Amendment in parliament appeared to have been taken by surprise as a result of the government’s move. “Minister Rajapaksa seemed to have been interested in going ahead with the proceedings. But, his party’s strategy appeared to have been different,” MP Cumaratunga said.
The Yuthukama chief said the ousted President blundered by failing to place before the public the much touted draft of the new Constitution prepared by a team led by Romesh de Silva, PC. The 20 Amendment was enacted in late Oct 2020 on the basis of repeated assurances that a new Constitution would be ready by the completion of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s second year in office, the MP said.The economy was in such a precarious situation, the government couldn’t cause further political turmoil, MP Cumaratunga said. Referring to various statements made by both government and Opposition members on the 22 Amendment following President Wickremesinghe’s statement, the lawmaker described the situation as pathetic.