The Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL) yesterday, while welcoming the salutary features of the 20th amendment to the Constitution, expressed its concern about the way some of the electorates were being planned to be rearranged with the possible effect of non-representation or reduced representation of the minority religious and linguistic groups in Parliament.
A statement signed by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, President, CBCSL and Bishop Valence Mendis, Secretary General, CBCSL said: “The national media has reported that the Cabinet of Ministers has already discussed and approved the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Along with that several civic groups have called for its expeditious approval in parliament.
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference understands the reasons for which a new Electoral System is being introduced in Sri Lanka through this amendment. It appreciates the need to ensure that elected members of Parliament become accountable to their electors and the unhealthy struggle for preference votes is definitely overcome. While that is so, we the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference are concerned about the way some of the electorates are being planned to be rearranged with the possible effect of non-representation or reduced representation of the minority religious and linguistic groups in the august assembly. It is our belief that for a true democracy the participation of all sectors of people living in Sri Lanka in the governance of this country is an absolute necessity.
“Already some groups have expressed their concern in this matter and we too wish to state that the inordinate hurry, with which this amendment is being pushed through without a proper study and consultation, can have adverse effects on the country as a whole. Therefore while accepting the need for a change in the present way of electing the peoples’ representatives, the concerns of all groups, specially the minorities, need to be taken into consideration before any more alterations are done to the Constitution.
“Hence we call upon His Excellency the President, the Government and the Political Leaders of this country to give adequate time for a sufficient study prior to the approval of this amendment with due openness and a spirit of seriousness in making such far reaching amendments to the Constitution.”