The Sunday Leader

19-A: Threat To National Security – Sarath Weerasekara

During the vote on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the only Parliament Member (MP) who voted against it is Sarath Weerasekara – former Rear Admiral, former Director General of the Civil Defence Force, former Deputy Minister of Labour and Labour Relations and current MP of Digamadulla. Weerasekera says he opposed the Amendment in Parliament as he felt there was a hidden agenda behind the entire process. He said that the Draft Bill was prepared in a manner which was intended to deprive the Sinhalese of getting into the role of the decision making process, and empower the minority communities above the majority Sinhalese. He also said that the country will be in anarchy in terms of its security, sovereignty and territorial integrity if the Amendment is implemented.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

By Camelia Nathaniel

 

Q: When all the other members of parliament were in agreement for the passing of the 19th Amendment, why were you the only one who opposed?

A: I have served in the Navy for 35 years and thereafter I have served as the first Director General of the Civil Security Department (CSD). I have dedicated my life for the protection of this sovereignty of the country. Hence having spent the best part of my life protecting the integrity and national security of this country, and now as a member of parliament, I am not prepared to allow anything or anyone to challenge that.

The responsibility of appointing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who is responsible for upholding law and order of this country was hitherto vested with the head of state who was the President. I firmly believe that the person appointed as the IGP to lead the entire police force that upholds the law and order of the country should be someone who will not cow down to external pressures and be an honest person and that the president should have the right to appoint such a person. Not only the police chief but the government should have the right to appoint or station any police officer to any area, and as a former member of the security establishment, I am well aware of the dire consequences of what can happen if that right is taken away.

With the passing of the 19th amendment, the government has lost the control of the police force completely. Thus the country will be in anarchy in terms of its security, sovereignty and territorial integrity if this amendment is implemented in the country. Hence according to this amendment, the police chief will be appointed according to the desire of the so called constitutional council.

Q: Don’t you think that it is a better system to appoint the police chief by a council comprising several persons, rather than it being done on the personal desire of a single person?

A: There are ten members in that council and the majority of them will be appointed on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition and not according to the recommendations of the cabinet ministers. Moreover the prime minister and the leader of the opposition only represent the voters of their district. However the president is someone who has been chosen by the entire country. Hence it is not just that the powers that are not within the jurisdiction of the president be handed to the prime minister and the opposition leader. This I don’t think is the right thing to do, and I certainly do not approve of it.

Apart from the main two parties the rest of the smaller parties are those based on ethnic grounds. Upon the agreement of these smaller parties, and their participation, one member can be appointed to the constitutional council. However the ministers who represent the two main political parties do not have the right or opportunity to take part in deciding the composition of the process of forming this constitutional council.

 

Q: However isn’t it a good thing that allowing five members who represent the minority parties to be appointed to the constitutional council, is not it a reflection of the multi-faceted approach of the council?

A: According to the Department of Census and Statistics, there are about seven ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. In addition there are other religious denominations such as Buddhists, Catholics, Christians, Muslims and Hindus. However by trying to incorporate and satisfy all these minority groups, the end result will be that the majority Sinhala race will become a minority representation within this constitutional council. I have no issue if persons of any ethnicity of religious denomination are appointed to a post based purely on their credentials. For instance even though the Chief Justice is a member of the ethnic minority, I have absolutely no issue with him being given that post purely because he is the best suited to hold that post, irrespective of his ethnicity.

However the danger in appointing the majority of members to the constitutional council from minority ethnic denominations is that the majority Sinhala Buddhists lose their identity and they become the minority in the decision making process and this is not a fair decision. This will only create problems for the majority Sinhala Buddhists and they will be marginalised within the constitutional council. Under this system, while all 14 Tamil National Alliance members will be availed the direct opportunity of deciding or being involved in the composition or structure of the constitutional council, People such as myself who represents the people of Digamadulla and any of the other parliamentarians representing the majority have been deprived of being part of formulating this constitutional council. Those who drafted the original Amendment wanted to deliberately deprive the Sinhalese of getting into the role of the decision making process.

 

This is amply manifested by the statement made by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga while participating in a function organised by the TNA recently and said during that function that the monopoly of the Sinhalese community should be broken. I voted against this Amendment in protest of her statement too.

 

Q: Does the 19th Amendment contain provisions required to de politicize the state sector as well?

A: There could be grave consequences in the central government not having a say in the appointing of the divisional secretaries of the North Eastern areas, and the government officials. Not so long ago in the Digamadulla area close to the Deegavapi temple, a decision was made by certain government officials to construct 500 houses for the residents of a particular ethnic denomination. Finally the Supreme Court had to issue a verdict to cancel this project due to the unfair manner in which the rest of the ethnic communities had been treated in provision of these houses. Hence I cannot be part of any process that creates such a situation. This is just another example of the many misdeeds of these areas. However the innocent people I represent in my area do not have the ability to go to court against every misdeed that is perpetrated against them. But I strongly believe that it is my prime duty to protect these innocent people that I represent. Hence I cannot approve or agree to any mechanism that destroys or hampers that responsibility. What I mean by this is not that I will support the government employees to carry out their duties independently. I must specifically mention that I will give my fullest support for the formulation of laws for this process but I cannot support a conspiratory constitutional structure.

I know those who were involved in getting the 19th amendment passed, but those who designed and structured this constitutional amendment are certainly not those who are patriotic to this country. They are traitors who depend on foreign funded nongovernmental organisations for their survival. Hence I cannot be a part of betraying my people and my country. This is the main reason I stood alone to oppose this 19th amendment.

 

9 Comments for “19-A: Threat To National Security – Sarath Weerasekara”

  1. Gamini Dullewe

    ONLY MP who stood out to JADApalanaya of Ranil/Chandrika/Mangala…

  2. Lanka

    Sarath Weerasekara a man to be respected by all Sinhala people as a man of wisdom and courage.He has given Sinhala people the dire warning of what satteliteCK, Ranil Mangala samaraweera are doing!!!!!!

  3. Daggy

    Thank you for the frank opinion & the independent thoughts.
    Hope what is said here will too be taken into account by those in authority.
    .
    It certainly makes sense from your point of view. People need to respect your decision.

  4. gamarala

    He served in the navy for 35 years. He was involved in massacres of tamils.

    http://www.eelamhomeland.com/infor/Lest_We_Forget_p1.pdf

  5. Mohan W

    I am proud of this politician for standing up to what he thinks right. His experience in the battle against terrorists probably made him take such decision. We should have many more of this calibre in the Parliament. By what is happening at present the plight of the Sinhalese Budhist is certainly under serious threat. This was endorsed by the statements made after the visit of a VVIP of a western country few days back.

  6. sangaralingham

    over 200 MPs cannot be wrong. ideas and intellects fluctuates

  7. sangaralingham

    constitutional council total numbers in majority must be balanced by total numbers of minorities

    • Sam T

      nop stop behaving like a Muslim crusader or christian crusader.

      don’t bring silly race or religion or language the pin cushions.

      Need but they will want their hick ups/kick backs rubbed under carpet.

      ` EQUALITY`; to match jury selection from laymen without criminal record not just the local idiots intellects who go over head. (perhaps 12 month periods to stop the insanity)

  8. roshan

    full of BS this man is uttering, pls. send his brain for laundry.

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