20A introduced to strengthen national security - PM | Daily News

20A introduced to strengthen national security - PM

‘19A caused anarchy and was rejected by people’:

The 20th Amendment was introduced to remove the 19th Amendment which caused anarchy in the country and was rejected by the people, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Participating in the Second Reading debate of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister said the mandate given to Parliament was to strengthen the President and therefore the 20th Amendment was brought in to strengthen national security and defeat the 19th Amendment which destabilized the country.

The Prime Minister said that the Government was not preparing to continue with the existing Constitution by introducing the 20th Amendment and expressed confidence that a new Constitution would be brought soon to build the nation fulfilling the long awaited aspirations of the people.

“No other Constitution has been criticized as much as this Constitution. Dr. N.M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and Sarath Muththettuwegama were opposed to this Constitution. However, we have no choice but to maintain this Constitution. Although the SLFP opposes this Constitution, four Presidents affiliated to the SLFP had governed under it. Despite the then United National Party leader, J.R.Jayewardene introducing this Constitution to prevent the SLFP from coming to power, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has ruled the country for the longest time by producing the highest number of Presidents. Therefore, all of us have been subjected to political ridicule under this Constitution.

But, we have not been able to change this Constitution. It was difficult to change such a Constitution because one party could not get a two thirds majority in this Parliament,” the Prime Minister said.

“But for the first time in history we have disproved the theory that we can never win a two-thirds majority under this electoral system. The people of this country wanted to build a Government that would safeguard the sovereignty of the people without succumbing to foreign pressures and prevent the country from breaking up into factions. That is why the people have been compelled to give us a 2/3 majority even under this system of proportional representation. We are preparing to bring this 20th Amendment not to continue this Constitution but to fulfill the long awaited aspirations of the people for a new Constitution that would build the nation without further delay.”

The Prime Minister said that when a Constitution is amended it is normal for various debates to arise in Parliament. “However, certain amendments in history have been made with great pressure on the Members of Parliament. But, we are not bringing this 20th Amendment to Parliament though political deals or snatching votes by excerpting influence on anyone. That is why at this moment when the 20th Amendment is being brought, there is room for debate. On the other hand, I would like to ask if the same could be said about the 19th Amendment? At that time the Maha Sangha or anyone were not allowed to protest. Therefore, we can be happy about the manner in which the 20th Amendment is being debated respecting the democratic rights of the people without any underhand deal making involved.”

The Prime Ministere noted that the 19th Amendment was solely aimed at taking revenge from the Rajapaksa family and to target the civic rights of the Rajapaksas’. But said, unfortunately, it only resulted in jeopardising the national security and unity of the country.

“The previous government rejoiced and gloated that they had clipped the wings of the president, not realising that they had cut off the neck of the country’s national security and national unity. Three years after the 19th Amendment pruned the powers of the president, they were able to witness the repercussions for their actions. The head of intelligence revealed to the Easter Commission that at least 10,000 officials were aware that such an attack would happen but could do nothing to prevent the attack. It is shameful when we hear these and as a result of the actions of the government so many lives were lost,” he said.

In addition the Prime Minister noted that the president did not even have the power to remove the IGP even after such a tragedy or even to transfer unproductive police officers. Only the Police Commission can do this. But it is a mystery as to who the Police Commission is answerable to.

“The state intelligence and other intelligence services were very strong during our time. But after the introduction of the 19th Amendment, the CID was used to hunt down Opposition politicians. The training that those officers received had been disrupted. The Police Commission will not intervene to improve these services. As a result, the efficiency of services such as the CID intelligence deteriorated. Now the CID could not even apprehend Rishad Bathiudeen. Rishard’s younger brother who was allegedly linked to terrorists had been released on bail by the Police and there was nothing that could have been done.”

Prime Minister Rajapaksa also noted that during the previous regime, officials from the Attorney General’s Department were brought to Temple Trees to conduct an Anti-Corruption Committee. For five years, Temple Trees spent a colossal sum of money to maintain that Committee. “Even the officials of the then Attorney General’s Department had publicly stated that the Committee was illegal. But has the Independent Audit Commission audited the huge expenditure incurred by this Committee? Is there a report submitted to the country after such an audit?” he questioned.