The Buddha Sasana Karya Sadhaka Mandalaya (SKSM) has told the government that the proposed Constitution should ensure the supremacy of Parliament. The organisation has stressed that there shouldn’t be restrictions or impediments placed on the legislative power of the people under any circumstances. “If there are any other institutions carrying out any legislative powers such power should be exercised by them subject to the powers of Parliament. Parliament shall have the right to repeal or amend any legislation in the same manner as the Parliament may amend or repeal its legislation.”
The following is the full text of a statement issued by SKSM on the need to ensure the sovereignty, unitary character, and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka through the proposed new Constitution;
“It is the paramount responsibility of all of us to rectify any past lapses on our part when steps are being taken to enact a constitution for the third time since Sri Lanka became a Republic.
In this regard, we consider that it is our responsibility to work amicably within a unitary Sri Lanka without dividing ourselves by ethnicity, religion, or language. It will not be possible to promote reconciliation among ethnic groups, and bring about peace and prosperity if people are to live in separate regions based on ethnicity, religion, or language.
All citizens of Sri Lanka are of equal standing. They have to submit themselves to a single corpus of laws. Laws have to be promulgated by the Parliament of Sri Lanka, which should be the supreme law making body. It is not at all beneficial to divide or separate the country by regions and prepare separate laws. Even in the implementation of laws there should not be any division.
The most worthwhile task before every one of us today is to develop Sri Lanka as a single, undivided country, rallying under one national flag, and governed by a single legal system.
Even during British colonial rule, every attempt was made to guarantee the preservation of the Buddha Sasana and our national heritage. Our history is a chronicle that will instill pride in everyone. Language, both Sinhala and Tamil is the main instrument to bring about understanding, cordiality, and reconciliation among the different communities. Our ancient history is a national heritage that should bring satisfaction to all communities living in this country.
Hence, whilst we, the Buddha Sasana Karya Sadhaka Mandalaya, are of the view that it is more appropriate to amend the present constitution in a suitable manner to create the necessary environment for all citizens to bring about amity, understanding, and prosperity, and to accomplish the task of establishing a righteous system of governance for all citizens to live without fear or misgiving in a unitary Sri Lanka, we wish to make the following proposals to the President, the Prime Minister and the Government of Sri Lanka in formulating the new amended constitution;
- Article 9 of the present Constitution, which ensures that Buddhism be given the foremost place and also guarantees that it is the duty of the state to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, should be included in the Constitution of Sri Lanka without any amendments.
- Sri Lanka should remain a unitary state. Supporting, advocating, or encouraging the establishment of a separate state or a federal state should be prohibited by law.
- The National Flag or the National Anthem should not be changed. However, Tamil speaking people may have the right to sing the National Anthem, which is in the 3rd Schedule of the present Constitution (Sinhala version), in the Tamil language, without changing the meaning of its words or its music.
- Since both Sinhala and Tamil languages have been recognized as official languages of the state, every citizen shall have the right to transact all business with the Government and the Judiciary in Sinhala or Tamil.
- The Supremacy of Parliament should be safeguarded. There should be no restrictions or impediments placed on the legislative power of the People, when Parliament exercises such power. If there are any other institutions carrying out any legislative powers, such power should be exercised by them subject to the powers of Parliament. Parliament shall have the right to repeal or amend any legislation in the same manner as the Parliament may amend or repeal its legislation.
- While Executive power of the People (including Defence) shall be vested with the President and/or the Cabinet as the case may be, any executive powers so exercised by anyone else or by any other institution, should be subject to the directions of the Government of Sri Lanka.
- No Foreign Government or Foreign Institution should be allowed to exercise Judicial power or to interfere in our Judiciary. Provisions should be included in the Constitution guaranteeing the same. There should be no special court or establish any other Constitutional Court above the Supreme Court.
- No Political or Administrative Unit, based on Race, Religion, or Language should be established within Sri Lanka in as much as amalgamation of Provinces in such a manner is not conducive to peaceful co-existence of communities. The existing provisions provided for amalgamation of provinces or changing their boundaries should be removed from the Constitution. The boundaries of the territory of Sri Lanka or physically annexing Sri Lanka with a neighboring country should not be done for the reason that it is prejudicial to the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
- The office of President, Minister, Member of Parliament, including any office in the Executive, Legislature, or the Judiciary, should be held only by a citizen of Sri Lanka who is not a citizen of any other country. Every such holder of office should be required to take the Oath set out in the 7th Schedule to the present Constitution mutatis mutandis to prohibit the promotion or the establishment of a Federal State.
- All appointments to high posts in Ministries, Departments, Commissions, Judiciary, or in any other institution should only be made on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council or similar institution created by law, consisting of nominees of recognized political parties proportionately represented therein. All nominations made to such Constitutional Council or institution should be approved by a majority of the Members of Parliament. The President shall not make any appointment to any high post recommended by the Constitutional Council or institution, unless the same is approved by a majority of Members of Parliament.
- Police powers and powers relating to law and order of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall not be alienated to any provincial or regional organ. The Sri Lanka Police Force shall be under the Command and Control of the Inspector- General of Police of Sri Lanka who shall be the head of the Sri Lanka Police.
- All State Land shall be vested in the Republic of Sri Lanka. Utilization, Administration, and distribution of State Land, shall only be done by the Government of Sri Lanka in accordance with the laws made by Parliament.
- Entering into of all agreements which are injurious or which has a prejudicial effect on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, unitary character, territorial integrity, and national security shall be prohibited, and any such agreement in relation to sovereignty, unitary character, territorial integrity, and national security of Sri Lanka shall only be valid upon the approval of Parliament.
- Remittance of funds to any Governmental or Non- Governmental institution in Sri Lanka, except through the Government of Sri Lanka made in accordance with the laws of the country, shall be prohibited. Provisions to this effect should be included in the Constitution.
- The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall not be more than 35, and the allocation of subjects to each such Minister shall be based on a scientific classification. No other Minister shall be appointed other than a maximum of 35 Deputy Ministers.
Ven. Diviyagaha Yasassi (President)
Ven. Dr. Ittapane Dhammalankara
Most Ven. Dodampala Chandrasiri
Ven. Kotugoda Dhammawasa
Ven. Dr. Walimitiyawe Kusaladhamma
Ven. Balangoda Sobhitha
Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana
Ven. Thirikunamale Ananda
Ven. Akuratiye Nanda
Ven. Matale Dhammakusala
Ven. Prof. Kandegoda Wimaladhamma
Ven. Seelagama Wimala
Ven. Prof. Agalakada Sirisumana
Ven. Sri Vajiraramaye Gnanaseeha
Mr. Jagath Sumathipala (Honourary Member)
Mr. Suren Abhayagunasekera (Honourary Member)
Dr. Praneeth Abhayasundera (President, All Ceylon Buddhist Congress
Mr. M. D. W. Ariyawansha (President, Dharmavijaya Foundation)
Mr. Sumedha Amarasinghe (President, Young Men’s Buddhist Association)
Mr. S. P. Wijesekera (President, Buddhist Theosophical Society)
Mr. Upatissa Karunaratne (President, Sasana Sevaka Samthiya)
Ms. Shantha Abeysekera (Secretary, All Ceylon Buddhist Women’s Congress)
Mr. Neville Piyadigama (Vice President, Public Service Buddhist Association)
Mr. Manohara de Silva (President’s Counsel) (Honourary Representative, Buddhist Lawyers’ Association)
Dr. P.G. Punchihewa (Honourary Representative, Shanthi Paadanama)
Dr. Hema Gunethilake (President, Bauddha Sahayogitha Kendraya)
Mr. Wasantha de Silva (Vice President, Mahabodhi Association)
Dr. Anula Wijesundera (President, Jayagrahanaya, Colombo)
Prof. Asanga Thilakaratne (President, Dhamriv Foundation)
Mr. Waruna Basnayake (President’s Counsel) (Council Member, Kaluthara Boodhi Bharakaara Mandalaya)