To the defenders of the 19th, with love


How come those parties splintered into nothingness before they could say “19th Amendment”

Dear All,

You championed the 19th Amendment (and maintained a dead silence on relevant flaws, including slapping the Supreme Court among other nasty moves during its passage) and now lament its imminent demise courtesy the 20th Amendment. Regrettable. Our sympathies, therefore.

Now, here’s a post in social media that might make you think. We hope.

IF the 19th amendment was such a great benefit to “democracy” and “we the people” and thereby the nation. If the transfer of power to the legislative branch served the nation’s interests. If the Independent commissions helped the administration of government.
1) How come those who brought in these changes, and the PM and President couldn’t even stay together after this great “invaluable” change to our constitution to even run for a second term?
2) How come they couldn’t deliver any socioeconomic and development benefits to our people during their term?
3) How come they even lost their own place in parliament and were rejected by their own people?
4) How come those parties splintered into nothingness before they could say “19th Amendment”
6) How come nothing on the ground changed?
7) How come “corruption” and “inequalities” continue after the amendment and even on their own watch?
8) How come the then President is now a parliamentarian and his party which had 144 seats down to 7?
9) How come a 4 time PM is now sitting at home without even a seat in parliament and soon to be out of his own party -which Btw didn’t win a single seat, one term after in the next election?

Now all this doesn’t mean that the 20th is the Mother of All Great Amendments, don’t get us wrong.  However, your horror at the Constitutional Council being replaced by a Parliamentary Council is unfounded. The CC was a toy of the yahapalanists — having non-parliamentarians does not necessarily make it ‘more independent.’ Lackeys can do the work of their political bosses. And they did. Two names might make you blush: Pujith Jayasundera and Ratnajeevan Hoole. Remember?

The social media post of course can be answered by that Mother of All Explanations: the masses are asses (Points 8 and 9). Point 1 through 7 could be explained this way: constitutions can only do so much.

The problem at the core of the 19th was that this hastily written document was deliberately framed by political expedience. It was about putting the then PM, whose party was a minority in Parliament, in the driving seat, thereby effectively unseating a President who had been elected BY THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. It was about blocking political aspirations of opponents. It was about retaining the power to inflate cabinet size (by not defining ‘National Government’). It was about subverting the independence of commissions in the very name of independence.

And the 20th? The positives: retains term limits, retains the RTI, trumps the long-held lie about ‘independence’ of commissions (NOT possible), sorts out the opaqueness regarding powers of the President and the Prime Minister (the 19th-lovers somehow assume that the President has no mandate or if he does it is somehow inferior to that of the PM).

Negatives: the limiting clauses on reviewing ‘urgent bills,’ centralization of power in the office of the President (better than the confusion inherent in the 19th, but still an issue which could only be resolved through significant amendments to the entire system — something that the 19th-lovers do not talk about and did nothing about when they [believed] they had the power to do so).

Your tears are noted. They are understood. We sympathize. We are also thinking of crocodiles.

Much love.

The PSC (NOT ‘Parliamentary Select Committee, btw).  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.