64th UNASL Public Lecture by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne PC, MP

A Public Lecture by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne PC, MP, on “Constitutional Reforms in Sri Lanka; Problems and Prospects” was conducted by the United Nations Association of Sri Lanka on 18thAugust, 2016 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations & Strategic Studies in Colombo.

The UNASL Public Lecture Series had been an ongoing regular event which was re-commenced after a lapse of over five years. The event was attended well by members of the Diplomatic Corps, Senior Lawyers, Government and Public Sector officials, Directors/CEO’s and Senior Managers from the Private Sector, Law Students, Intellectuals, Entrepreneurs, Professionals and the General Public.

Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne spoke on the First Constitution of Ceylon – The Soulbury Constitution, the 13th Amendment which gave rise to the Provisional Councils, its advantages disadvantages and the safeguards that need to be taken to ensure that the powers vested in the Provincial Councils through the devolution of power, are not abused.

The flaws in the 13th Amendment in relation to Provincial Councils need to be looked at critically in order to ensure that the Provincial Councils work efficiently, he said. He emphasized that what the majority of the people want an unitary state and he elaborated on this. Further, he also mentioned that the non-addressing of the issues of the Tamil people had pushed them to advocate for a separate or federal state. Speaking on the 19th Amendment, he said that it encompasses some very important aspects such as the independent Commissions, etc., which are essential for good governance. He also stressed that supremacy of the constitution was an essential factor and he elaborated on this subject.

With regard to the new electoral system, he said that what we need is an electoral system that ensures justifiable representation. Commenting on the proportional representation system, he said that several aspects are under discussion to ensure a good system of electoral representation of the people in parliament.

To one of the questions raised by the audience, Dr. Jayampathy responded that the Constitution cannot solve problems. He said that it is a Legal Base which provides a basis for a better society. Dr. Jayampathy also gave vital examples related to the Problems and Prospects on the Constitutional Reforms in Sri Lanka.

Mr. M.M. Zawahir, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Association of Sri Lanka presided and delivered the welcome address.

The Guest Speaker Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel and Member of Parliament was introduced by Mr. Errol Smith, Secretary-General of the United Nations Association of Sri Lanka who served as the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 64th UNASL Public Lecture Series. He also proposed the vote of thanks.