KEYNOTE: ‘The constitutional vision of the new government ‘ by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, 5.30-7.00pm, 16th September
JDA Perera Gallery, Horton Place, Colombo
Free & open to public. Parking available inside the venue. Seating limited.
As reported in the media in May this year, Jayampathy Wickramaratne, the leader of a three-member team that prepared the 19th Amendment, called for a new Constitution which will include a fresh Bill of Rights and address the issues of devolution of powers to provincial councils and power sharing at the Centre. After the General Election on 17th August, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reported in the media expressing hope that a political consensus could be reached within months on a new Constitution for Sri Lanka, because in his opinion the issues that needed to be resolved were fairly narrow.
This triumph of hope and optimism over bitter experience may not last long, and the window for substantive changes in Sri Lanka’s constitutional fabric is small.
If our present constitution is fundamentally unsound, what can be done in imagining a new one to ensure the flaws are addressed? And if in addressing these flaws, hard choices have to be made, how can a constitutional reform process secure the requisite political will, above purely parochial and expedient considerations, to stay the course? How will citizens be a part of this process – as mere onlookers, or as active participants? What are the core values the government will anchor the new constitution to and seek through its passage, the entrenchment of in the popular imagination? Ultimately, independent of the success or failure of the project around a new constitution, what does the new government aim to achieve around constitutional reform in a manner qualitatively different to attempts in the past?
Respondent: Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives