No.1 priority we, the public, should demand from the new minority ‘coalition’ government consisting of the two largest national parties of the country, irrespective of their corrupt, failed, selfish leadership and the crony business leaders of the ‘biz empires’ that fund them, is to ensure that a new constitution is designed by all parties elected by the voters, responsible national minded civil society movements that are not on the payroll of any biased INGOs with vested interests or by western embassies (who has their own agendas for SL) together with the silent intelligentsia of our Motherland from all walks of life, race or religion sitting together with an open mind to embrace the rich cultural and traditional values, simple aspirations of the innocent majority and goodness and big hearts, we Sri Lankans as a sovereign undivided nation enjoyed for centuries before western pirates and colonialists invaded this country made us their slaves and destroyed our culture, peace, trust and values until we regained our independence (only) in 1948 and yet we have not got our bearings right to find a lasting solution for our future generations to live in a peaceful, stable, united and a prosperous nation as our forefathers did for thousands of years in the past.
Some of the salient features of the ‘new constitution’ I dream of should have the following:
1. No religion, race nor language should have any special status in the new constitution.
2. All acceptable freedoms guaranteed by UN charter should be incorporated.
3.Consideration should be given to remove ‘religion’ and ‘race’ from our certificates of birth and all other forms of official records and classification of Sri Lankan citizens.
4. Single nationality as ‘Sri Lankans’ should be cultivated, promoted and pride of place should be given from birth, at educational institutions, places of worship, etc.
5. National languages of English, Sinhala and Tamil should be recognized for all official and public administrations purposes.
6. Priority should be given to English as the primary language medium for all levels of state and private educational purposes.
7. New geographical boundaries should be decided based on common administrative, population spread, agriculture, natural resources given prominence which will be the basis for electoral divisions too not based on ethnic or religious demarcations.
8. Non-recognition of any ‘traditional’ homeland concepts meant to only to divide and disrupt the common interests of our innocent people of all communities.
9. Traditional homeland for all Sri Lankans should be promoted the length and breadth of Sri Lankan island.
10. Current political structure based on municipal, provincial and parliamentary seat should be
re-evaluated to ensure only two structures – one in the Center consisting of parliamentary representations based on a mixed electoral system with no discrimination to minority communities nor minority issue based parties supporting the grassroots level administrative structure and other structure being similar to ‘ward’ type traditional local administrative unit exercising the powers shared from the Center.
11. People’s mandate should be tested to elect a national leader as the executive president answerable to the people through the parliament with guarantees.
12.National elections should be held simultaneously with the presidential election to elect members of the parliament belonging to a political party based on their ‘manifesto’ of promises to win under a mixed system of both first past the post basis as well as by proportional basis to ensure minority parties or groups contesting are not deprived of any opportunity in the national parliament representation.
13.No single President or PM should hold office for more than one term continuously with each term limited to not more than five years. They could always go before the people for a fresh mandate after being out of office for one term or more.
14.Party constitutions should guarantee common criteria is adopted and followed, preferably with a code of conduct when selecting suitable candidates for people’s representations through a party.
15.Preferably there should be a party level criteria in selecting suitable candidates initially to ‘ward’ level representation and thereafter based on their performance and popularity amongst his/her constituents, promoted to national parliamentary level candidacy.
16.The opposition rights should be strengthened and guaranteed under the constitution and be treated as a shadow government with specific roles and tasks to monitor and report to the parliament all actions of the government and its ministers as a critical role being played by them.
17. There should be no provision for cross overs, bye-election should be held for the particular parliament seat whenever a vacancy occurs, no provision for national governments but coalition governments will be acceptable to create a majority led government to be effective.
18. All people-friendly features of the present constitution should be incorporated by fine tuning to meet the current political realities and expectations of the majority but no room should left for any political party to go against will of the people who elected them by having a robust monitoring system to take action against errant people’s representatives by the people whilst they are in power with legal guarantees for fair play and justice to all concerned
Mohan D Mendis