Written by Tharushan Fernando
29 Mar, 2016 | 9:37 pm
A seminar on Constitutionalism – Parliament of Sri Lanka organised in collaboration with the USAID-funded Sri Lanka Parliament Project was held in Colombo on Tuesday.
The seminar, which was attended by Members of Parliament, was graced by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap.
“We want to bring everyone together in Parliament and move forward according to the teachings of Lord Buddha,” said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who went on to state that at times the government will have the majority, and at times they won’t. “And just because there is no majority you will not be able to divide parliament.”
“If we are gathering in peace and discussing in peace, and leaving in peace, we can strengthen the parliament through the teachings of Lord Buddha,” said the premier
Speaker further, the Prime Minister stated that constitution drafting must be done with the required knowledge: “Just lifting your hands for one proposal will not do although that is what is happening in the constitutional making in the country. But everyone must know the how the system operates because democracy means many things and everyone must understand what exactly it means and what exactly is constitutionalism.”
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Atul Keshap noted that Sri Lankans are rightfully proud of their long democratic history influenced by its own unique traditions, relationships and working with institutions. “And you have confronted challenges in terms of conflict and natural disaster, changed governments in a vibrant multi-party system and embraced progress towards transparency,” said the US Ambassador.
Ambassador Keshap added that there remains difficult challenges to addressing issues related to reconciliation, accountability – and a government that reflects the will of the people but these are decisions for the people of Sri Lanka and their elected representatives.
A presentation was held thereafter on constitutionalism and the central idea of constitutional government. Emeritus Professor of Law from the University of Queensland, Australia, Prof. Suri Ratnapala stated that every country in the world claims to have a constitution and Sri Lanka claims to have a constitution. He explained: “We have had several constitutions but the important thing to realise is that not every country has constitutional government. We are human beings, every politician is a human being, every politician is flawed, not perfect.” He added that constitution seeks to contain power on the one hand and direct it to the public good, and not to private interests.
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