Voters must act responsibly, elect supporters of democracy: Nidahasa People’s Collective

Friday, 24 July 2020 01:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Nidahasa People’s Collective this week requested voters to act wisely and elect those who will support and secure a democratic country. “This time, voters will have a very clear choice to decide between those who support democracy and those who oppose. 

“If you want the democratic institutions protected and the benefits of the 19th Amendment strengthened, then we ask the voters to think wisely and use your vote for those who support democracy. Only then you can support your own democracy,” said Gamini Viyangoda, member of the Nidahasa movement during a press briefing held in Colombo.     

“Nidahasa People’s Collective speaks for the 19th Amendment. That is my answer to those who ask who actually support it now. We all know that except for one vote, the 19th Amendment was passed with the majority of Parliament, and was a near unanimous decision. Therefore, those who supported it should now protect it. But there are some who say although they are in agreement with the overall principles embodied in the 19th Amendment, regarding the checks and balances, independent structures and the right to information etc., they see some things are not working well. I want to tell them that anywhere in the world where progress has been made, it has been incremental. You must go forward. You need to look at what is achieved with a critical eye and look for improvement. Laws do not solve problems. We need an accompanying political culture. We need the right people who are willing to make the right decisions,” emphasised Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, member of the Nidahasa movement.

“It is only through the protection of the 19th Amendment and its accompanying independent institutions that the democratic rights of the common people can be safeguarded. Unfortunately many have failed to realise the importance of this aspect of the 19th Amendment. When there are independent institutions, anyone can freely access them and seek assistance with the hope of free and fair treatment. A good example is how the conduct of the Executive President was ruled unconstitutional by the independent Judiciary during the 2018 October constitutional crisis. That is the urgency and importance of safeguarding democratic institutions,” said Javid Yusuf, member of the Nidahasa movement.

“There are three layers in the governance. Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. Last November, people voted for a President. Now there is an important task to elect the Legislature – the Parliament. There is a clear difference of the role of the President and the Parliament. Parliament is the supreme entity that has the power to make laws. Those who ask for a two-thirds’ majority say they need a majority to address critical social issues such as the drug issue and anti-social conduct etc. But there are ample laws in place to address these issues. The problem lies not in the absence of the laws, but in the lapse in implementing them. Most critically, how the law is equally enforced on everyone irrespective of their close connectivity to those who hold power and otherwise. We have so many examples. The most recent incident in Kurunegala is one such,” noted K.W Janaranjana, member of the Nidahasa movement.   

“The recent incidents in Sri Lanka are quite disturbing. On one hand, the Government has failed to protect democratic institutions and on the other they have failed to implement laws equally to all and continue to protect their supporters whatever the wrong doing they are in. This has frustrated people. A good example is the Lunawa incident, where the anger that the women showed was their total frustration over these inequalities, but mostly they were targeted. The Government response to the Kurunegala incident is quite the opposite. They have created a wrong picture and re-written history only to protect their supporters. There is a huge rejection of these trends by the people. At the elections, we should elect a group of people who can have democratic discussions in Parliament and serve to the best interest of all people, not a few segments of the society,” said Dr. Athulasiri Samarakoon, member of the Nidahasa movement.

“Safety and happiness of children of any society is a clear indication of how healthy and developed that country is. The most recent incidents we have experienced in the country are very disturbing, where within a few days, three children have been subject to severe abuse and which resulted in death. If our children are not safe to walk freely in the country, to enjoy their childhood, and parents are not at ease with the kind of environment their children live, what type of democracy we can boast of? If this continues, there can be negative social trends. The law must address these criticalities without delay. In order for the laws to implement in all fairness, there needs to be an accompanying political culture. This is key. Therefore, we must look at those who can provide this freedom and who can strengthen the democratic institutions where children, women, and all people in the country can live in peace. We must send to Parliament those who will stand for these issues fearlessly and in fairness,” said Manu Tissera, member of the Nidahasa movement.