President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that in order to achieve prosperity and development there should be no conflicts among the three main branches of governance the executive, legislature and judiciary.
Addressing the House on the vote commemorating the 70th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka, the President said: “We should strengthen the law and order and independence of judiciary. There shouldn’t be any conflict among the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
President Sirisena said the establishment of an executive presidency with unlimited powers and the 18th Amendment giving more powers to the presidency had resulted in the weakening of parliamentary democracy.
“I am so happy and proud to address this august assembly when our nation marks the 70th anniversary of parliamentary democracy. I welcome the Speakers of South Asian nations present here today to witness this occasion. All governments which came to power after the introduction of 1947 Soulbury Constitution have worked for the strengthening of democracy and freedom in the country.
Our parliament system changed in 1972. In 1978, the system of governance was changed with the establishment of an executive presidency with unlimited powers. We have to admit that the move weakened Parliament. Then there was the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, further concentrating powers in the executive presidency. But, people voted on Jan 08, 2015 for a new government, which introduced the 19th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing the 18th Amendment. That was a victory for democracy. It strengthened this supreme institution.
“We are working to further strengthen this government. We hope Members of all parties in Parliament would extend their fullest support to achieve that objective.
“There are many leaders who worked for the strengthening of democracy in the past. DS Senanayake, SWRD Bandaranaike, Sirimavo Bandaranike, Dudley Senanayake, JR Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Kumarartunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa are among them.
“During the course of past 70 years we have gained a experience which would help us further ensure the rights of the people and democracy in the country. It is a duty of all of us to strengthen democracy and law and order in the country. We should usher in economic prosperity. We should always act with the intention of decentralizing the powers concentrated in the hands of a single person.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, moving the motion for the vote, said that parliament commemorated with pride the 70th anniversary of its first meeting as an independent parliament. He noted that Parliament of Sri Lanka was the oldest parliament elected by universal adult franchise in the Asia region with an unbroken record of democratic governance. “Today we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of this assembly. We have not only safeguarded 70 years of democracy but also set a record. We have ended an era which limited the rights of the people and weakened Parliament. We have a parliamentary tradition that goes back 116 years. If we can evolve a political solution for the ethnic problem we can achieve economic prosperity and development.
Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on behalf of the SLFP, chief government whip minister Gayantha Karunathilaka, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, SLMC leader Minister Rauff Hakim, EPDP leader Douglas Devananda, Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena also addressed the House.