New constitution needed: Premier

“We should all join hands and think of taking the country forward. We should all make a joint effort to develop the country by shedding the dark shadows of a 30 year war from our minds,” he said.

The Prime Minister was addressing a Daham Hamuwa at the Sri Vivekaramaya, Pengiriwatta, Gangodawila to mark the opening of a new Dhathu Mandiraya on Saturday.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who said he wanted to take the opportunity to delve something on the constitution, said they have appointed a Constitutional Council to formulate a new constitution.

He said when the Constitutional Council met they appointed a Steering Committing with himself, several ministers including Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Susil Premajayantha and representatives of all parties.

Various views and ideas are submitted in the Steering Committee. Some people were questioning about the outcome of the Constitutional Council and the Steering Committee appointed in January. No problems had arisen among the members, the Prime Minister said.

He said they have already appointed six sub committees on fundamental rights, public service, central government, Provincial Council and Pradeshiya Sabha relations, law and order, emergency, courts and state finance.

The reports sent by various parties and fronts have been forwarded to these committees. These six committees had now formulated their reports and they would be placed before the country after submitting them to the Constitutional Council, the Prime Minister said.

He said they have not taken any decision on to whether the proposals are in order or not, whether they are to be accepted in toto or with amendments or whether they should be rejected. It should be emphasised that no concrete decision had been made so far about the new constitution. The government could take a decision only after receiving public opinion, the Prime Minister said.

He said to obtain public opinion on the remaining parts of the constitution a few fundamental proposals would be made and subjected to discussion in the country.

The ideas and views of the Maha Sangha, civil society and outside persons should also be obtained and thereafter a new constitution could be formulated without wasting a long time, he said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said instead of the proportional representation system of elections which incurred heavy expenditure and fomented much acrimony, discussion were centred on mixture of both.

Next would be a strategy to abolish the Executive Presidency. But one feature of this Executive Presidency was its stability. But there were some shortcomings in it. If the Executive Presidency was abolished the new system introduced in its place should promote stability. If not, governments may have to be changed every year. That won’t be a suitable proposition, he said.

He requested the people to forward suggestions in this regard.

The Prime Minister said all nine Chief Ministers have claimed that powers of Provincial Councils could be increased as it is without changing the constitution.

What should be the powers of the Pradeshiya Sabhas was another question. They hoped to obtain the views of experienced and knowledgeable persons on this matter. The committee appointed to recommend a Grama Rajya scheme had already submitted its report and the Cabinet had given approval to place it before the people.

“Today the world was subjected to constant change. There are new ideas the internet as well as websites. These were not found when the Soulbury Constitution and the 1972 and 1977 constitutions were formulated. In the present day society youth have begun to think anew regarding their rights and how to safeguard them. We should think of all these matters and formulate a new constitution acceptable to all.”

The Prime Minister said the new Dhathu Mandiraya would be of great service to the people in the area.

The Dhathu Mandiraya was built by Rosy Senanayake in association with her siblings, mother and other family members in memory of her father Eric Ramanayake.

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