So much hot air | Daily News

So much hot air

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has set the record straight. He told parliament, that has converted itself into a Constitutional Assembly, on Wednesday, that no finality has been reached on the new constitution and what they were discussing are only the proposals of the steering committee and the various sub committees, that are before them. All these will be put to the people and religious leaders before preparing the draft. The views and opinions of all stakeholders will be obtained before finality is reached. He made it clear that the government was amenable to accommodate proposals of the Joint Opposition and dropout what the JO is opposed to.

The preeminent position granted to Buddhism will remain intact as well as the unitary state. A broad discussion will be carried out on the new constitution with the Mahanayakes and the people, as suggested by the President. “You say Provincial Councils should not seek to divide the country, PCs should not be allowed to merge, Buddhism should be given the foremost place, the Prime Minister should be elected by parliament. Leader of the Opposition should be elected by Opposition MPs. We are agreeable to all these,” he said. He said all the proposals before the Constitutional Assembly will be discussed with the people and religious leaders before the draft is prepared, preceded by the necessary formalities.

He reminded the MPs that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, sought a mandate to set up a constitutional assembly and so did other leaders. Hence, what they are now doing is implementing the mandate of the people. The Premier went on to state that constitution making was a laboured process and they could not rush into anything. It would be April, when the final contours of the new constitution emerge.

Hence, the Prime Minister has made it clear that nothing has been decided upon, in no uncertain terms, and that it was the divergent views within the committees that were being discussed by the Constitutional Assembly. The distilled version of the new constitution will come out only after the different views of all the disparate forces have been collated and sorted out. The Speaker himself, in a newspaper interview, had stated that he would not lend his signature to a constitution that contains provisions that are inimical to the state or where the status of Buddhism has been compromised.

So what is this big song and dance by the Joint Opposition? How can one say that the constitution has already been made by America? Will either the President or Prime Minister commit political hara kiri by acting in defiance of the Maha Sangha?

The game plan is clear. The Joint Opposition is hell-bent on making the proposed new constitution the whipping boy at the upcoming local government elections. What else could be more plausible, given that MR himself pledged to grant 13 plus to the Tamils? The JO is clearly hoping that the emotion whipped up by its ‘sell out’ slogan, would be powerful enough for the Sinhala electorate to overlook the corruption cases against prominent JO leaders and tip the scales in its favour. It is this same emotion that was whipped up to force Bandaranaike to tear up the Banda-Chelva Pact and Dudley to jettison the Dudley-Chelva agreement, that saw rivers of blood flow in the country, in the years to follow. Is history repeating itself? Will the JO action mark another watershed in this country, where the ethnic question is concerned, with the future generations having to pay dearly for the folly of a few?

It is time that saner counsel prevail and the JO stopped playing football with the national question. The more moderate among its members, at least, should prevail on the hardliners to desist from playing politics with this issue. Veterans, such as Dinesh Gunawardena can take the lead in this regard. After all, he can boast of an excellent political pedigree, unlike some of the riffraff who have entered the present parliament.

Be that as it may, the government should embark on an effective campaign to educate the public on the current state of affairs, vis-a-vis the new constitution. Like the President has noted, many positive developments of the government have not reached the public domain and the attention being paid to disseminate the correct information on the new constitution, too, appears heading for a similar fate. Keheliya Rambukwella’s claim that a US Congressman had told a Lankan parliamentary delegation, of which he was one, that America has already wrapped up the constitution, should be countered by the government. If not, there will be other similar claims from JO functionaries, to incite the public, as the LG elections draw near.

We witnessed such a scenario during the Presidential Election, too, where non-existent pacts with the TNA, by the Common Candidate, were freely bandied about. The strident rhetoric of the JO is bound to increase with every step of constitution making, and, reach a crescendo at election time. The propaganda machinery of the government should wake-up from its slumber and be alert to the machinations of the rabble rousers. 


There is 1 Comment

Items started must be completed. Objections are not surprising majority in parliament must decide. Voters minds are polluted by various sources to create doubt suspicion. So one must trust on what parliament decide. If not the efficacy of elected members will be questioned as they reprint dociety and every members of the public


Add new comment