Implementing 13th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution
It is easy to pass legislation. Implementation is the most difficult
part of the Legislative and Executive process. Both 13th and 17th
amendments have become part of our Supreme Law. The 13th Amendment is
partly implemented and the 17th Amendment is hardly implemented. If a
set of laws is not enforceable it should be amended, abolished or not
Provincial Councils were proposed to every province by Article 154A,
of the Constitution, based on the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 which
was imposed on us against our will. It was meant and established as a
solution to North-East issue. It is only after 20 years, that a duly
elected Provincial Council was established for the East by the people.
Credit goes to the Armed Forces for the liberation of the province,
President Rajapaksa for taking correct and prompt political decisions,
those who were willingly transformed from terror to a peaceful
democratic process and generally the people of North and East who
exercised the power of franchise without fear or favour.
East has been a war zone for over 20 years. The LTTE has set up
illegal court houses, police stations, banks and administrative
structures using the resources and facilities provided by the people of
the rest of the country.
Education, Health, Power, Telephones and all other facilities have
been provided by the Central Government to the East and North in the
past without proper structures for collection of taxes or revenues to
the Central Government.
Nowhere in the world had such facilities provided to terrorist
controlled areas at an enormous cost. The Chief Minister of the Province
will be responsible for the collection of revenue and bring the lost
glory with resources in the region and sweat of the people on the soil
in the area.
He has picked up the right man for the right job. This shows he is
capable of making other high post appointments too in par with the
sacred and high responsibilities thrust upon them to act in a fair, firm
and kind manner.
“People” in the South will no longer be compelled to dump colossal
sums of their hard-earned funds for the running of the other “Failed
The ethnic proportion and the mode of exercise of franchise have
given a ray of hopes for ethnic harmony, fair play and equality.
Transformation to the democratic process of one time armed cadres is
Infamous CFA between Ranil and Prabhakaran which recognized and
demarcated certain parts of the North and East as LTTE - held areas has
been fortunately abrogated by President Rajapaksa. Today there is a sigh
of relief for Sri Lankans as the East will no longer be a burden to the
“Rice Bowl” of Sri Lanka will be productive for the rest of the
country and the future economic development in the province will lead
the country to its past glory and future prosperity. During the
elections political decisions were taken out of racial or religious
considerations. People enjoy freedom after 20 years.
Terror, Terrorism and terrorists have lost to democracy and
democratic values. Human bond has developed above politics and other
petty considerations. Political leaders and people are willing to be
accommodative and reasonable.
Pillaiyan’s statement that he is not concerned about the post of the
Chief Minister is significant, which speaks thousands of words of his
remarkable transformation to democracy, magnanimity and our bright
future. These are good lessons to other politicians as well.
The decision taken by the President on the appointment of the Chief
Minister too is to be admired as he has long thought and considered all
aspects in arriving at the most crucial decision of the hour, which has
laid the foundation for future ethnic harmony and international
Proponents and promoters of the 13th Amendment expected the North and
East provincial council to be a solution to the terror campaign
initiated by a few misguided group of people in the North and East. It
is so sad that It took 20 long years to implement the hurriedly drafted
and presented legislation in a difficult and tense situation in the
They say whatever happens, happened for the good in some way. Thank
God - Prabhakaran point blank refused to accept the Provincial Councils
in 1987 for different reasons. His demand is nothing less than Eelam.
He is aware that he will not be democratically elected and not
survive in a democratic structure. Had he accepted Provincial Councils,
it would have been disastrous to the rest of the country and the entire
world. Pillaiyan though called a “Monster” by the opposition has proved
himself to be a “Teddy Bear” from his present conduct and statements he
In Nepal Prachanda has embraced democratic values, IRA denounced
violence, laid down arms and entered the democratic process, JVP - one
time terror group has embraced democracy and active in the mainstream
politics, What is the difficulty on the part of Pillaiyan to be a
He has proved to possess the qualities of a democrat by his conduct
during the recent election campaign and the subsequent statements.
On the other hand Muslims have co- existed with Sinhalese for
thousands of years and were privileged by successive SLFP-led
governments from the time of Badi-ud-deen Mohamood to the current Muslim
Leadership. Their behaviour is commendable in this crucial and crisis
No system is ideal. The PC system is defective and also a white
elephant. But today we have no option but to make use of PC system and
try our luck to develop our country in order to bring about peace and
There is no way that we can turn back from PC system as the
Constitution is so rigid and not easily amended- especially the PC
system which is so deep- rooted. On the other hand except the Somawansa
faction of the JVP, all other political parties are in favour of the PC
TULF, EPDP. UNP, SLFP, MEP, and even Maha Sangha and other religious
leaders are in favour of a solution based on the PC model. TNA though in
favour are quiet due to the influence of LTTE. We hope and pray the TNA
too be brave to take the correct decision. We are on the main crossroads
in history and it’s time to “Grab” this opportunity in the interest of
The seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was mooted by the
United National Party, and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna to prune the powers
of the Executive Presidency when Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga had promised
in the 1994 election manifesto, to abolish Executive Presidency.
She was not serious in the implementation of the promise for obvious
reasons. She was compelled to oblige UNP and JVP to bring
hurriedly-drafted and quickly-presented amendment during her
probationary government for her own survival, to be in power at any
The 17th Amendment proposed a Constitutional Council for the
appointment of Elections Commission, Public Service Commission, Police
Commission, Human rights Commission, Bribery Commission, Finance and
It was also the brainchild of JVP and UNP during probationary
Government. With the JVP majority, Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga was obliged
to the demand of JVP and UNP for her to be in power at any cost.
The 17th Amendment was not properly implemented during her tenure of
office. None of the Commissions is properly constituted and not properly
or sometimes at all functioning due to inherent defects. Most
appointments made by the President are excellent though the
Constitutional Council itself is not constituted and remains a dead
But life must go on and the President is bound to perform the duty
entrusted to him in the capacity of the trustee of the nation for a
given period. So far his appointments in the absence of a Constitutional
Council are of expected standard.
Appointments of Judges and the acceptance of positions itself have
proved the credibility and the acceptance of such steps taken by the
President apart from other appointments such as the appointment of IGP
and other high posts.
IGP post is falling vacant soon to be followed by other top posts
such as Chief Justice, Attorney General, Auditor General and those
specified in the Schedule to the 17th Amendment. President has proved
himself that he will purely go by merit, honesty, ability and human
kindness of the top-post holder.
The answer to the criticism of the opposition on the delay in the
implementation is to make proper and good appointments as it has become
imminent to appoint persons of “Ability, Honesty and Character” to the
posts falling vacant without delay, following the theory of “Necessity”
and the smooth running of the affairs of the nation for which the
President is elected. How could a part of a carefully drafted
Executive-modal Constitution be transformed to a different system in a
Deliberations in the Parliament on the 17th Amendment on 24th
September 2001 and subsequent events indicate the steps taken in a hurry
to pass legislation quickly without detailed scrutiny. The best solution
would have been to change the entire constitution into a Parliamentary
It is time to expedite the consultative process of the select
committee on the 17th Amendment and explore new possibilities afresh by
learning from mistakes and bad experiences which are costing the nation
by way of funds and rate of development.Mahinda Rajapaksa has never
promised to abolish the Executive Presidency.