Government using powers under 20A to enforce arbitrary actions contrary to democratic principles – Karu
Former Speaker and National Movement for a Just Society Chairman Karu Jayasuriya yesterday accused the Government of using the unfettered power obtained through the passage of the 20th Amendment (20A) to enforce arbitrary actions that are completely contrary to democratic principles.
“Today, it is quite apparent to us that this government is not only destroying the pillars of democracy of the country but the freedoms of the public, placing their welfare in jeopardy. They are also shamelessly trying to cover up their failures by presenting false and misleading information,” Jayasuriya said at a press conference organised by the National Movement for a Just Society.
Below is the full text of the statement made by the former Speaker.
The National Movement for a Just Society, over the past few months, held regular press briefings to present various issues. By having regular briefings, we wished to bring attention to many serious issues as we thought it was our responsibility to educate the citizens of this country without any ethnic, religious, or political bias.
Our intention is not only to educate our fellow citizens for the benefit of our country but also to apprise the relevant government authorities. Our intentions are very sincere.
We know that the people of this country are facing many difficulties today, not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the incompetence of the Government authorities. However, we are not pointing out these facts to embarrass the Government. We hope that the Government will act in the best interests of the people of this country, taking into account the facts and constructive criticisms that we have made over the course of these few months.
However, it is unfortunate that we still have to point out that the Government is using the unfettered power obtained through the passage of the 20th Amendment, to enforce arbitrary actions that are completely contrary to democratic principles. Therefore, we cannot turn a blind eye to such actions.
Today, it is quite apparent to us that this Government is not only destroying the pillars of democracy of the country but the freedoms of the public, placing their welfare in jeopardy. They are also shamelessly trying to cover up their failures by presenting false and misleading information.
The murder of a group of inmates at the Mahara Prison is one such example. An official Government statement said that none of the inmates had been shot. But what did the investigations reveal later on? It was clear that all eight inmates that died had been shot.
Such situations are not only tragic but also extremely dangerous. At the same time, the Government must realise that it could have a very negative impact on our country including our standing in the international community.
However, in the end, the truth will prevail. Therefore, they need to understand that truth cannot be permanently suppressed by force. We also like to commend all the members of the committee appointed to investigate the deaths of the inmates for revealing the truth to the country. They have set a good example for other commissions of inquiry in this country.
The most important aspect of public administration is to follow a consistent policy as well as to present accurate data and information in reporting its progress. However, in recent times, we have seen that the data has been subjected to many changes at various times. We need to understand that such incidents are detrimental to the Government and the relevant institutions.
For example, we saw a report that said that the chairman of a leading State institution in the country was removed from office on the orders of His Excellency the President due to allegations of corruption. The next day, the same media reported that the Chairman had resigned due to time constraints.
Subsequent reports told a different story. The person in question, who was functioning as the chairman of two institutions, had only resigned from the post of chairman of just one institution. What is more important here is what transpired after. It is now reported that His Excellency the President has appointed the same person as the new chairman of the Sri Lanka Standards Institute.
How should we comprehend such events? We don’t need to interpret this any differently than to realise that these acts are done to deceive the public. Today, the people of the country are well aware of what is happening. However, due to such contradictory actions, the reputation of the President will be ruined in the end.
If we take into account what has transpired this year, we need to be further vigilant about the adverse effects the 20th Amendment has had on the country. The 20th Amendment has deprived the rights of 21 million people and handed them over to one person.
The Government must now realise that the vast majority of the Sri Lankan intelligentsia, as well as the majority of the religious leadership, do not approve of the current situation. Understanding the true opinions of the people can lead to the future prosperity of the Government.
The 20th Amendment abolished the existing Constitutional Council and transformed the Independent Commissions into institutions that could be turned into mere political pawns. Institutions such as the Public Utilities Commission have been deactivated and their political allies have been given the green light to misuse public funds. The public looks on with disgust at such wrongdoings. No civilised country would go down such a road.
We do not wish to comment further at this time. A group of members of the intelligence council will present the views of our organisation in relation to their respective areas.
Finally, we would like to make one prediction. We presume that the future generations of this country will not pardon them for the destruction they have caused to democracy and the rights of the people by the 20th Amendment. We may not be alive then, but the future generations will regard the founders of the 20th Amendment as traitors.
However, we are all optimistic about the coming New Year. We wholeheartedly wish that 2021 will be a year that will benefit the country, fulfil the aspirations of the people while taking decisions for the benefit of future generations. May the coming year be a good one for all of you!
(Source: Daily FT)