The then government was so much under pressure that it accepted the 13th Amendment to the Constitution without calling for a referendum in the face of a threat of invasion, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said yesterday. Weeratunga added that public discussion is brewing on the 13th Amendment and many secrets with regard to the introduction of the Provincial Council system are coming to light. He said the President does not show hesitation in shutting down establishments and institutions if they do not provide the expected services to the public.
“President Rajapaksa always gives clear directives to us to close down establishments which do not provide the expected services to the people,” Weeratunga said.
The country’s administrative process was completely changed with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which was implemented without the people’s consent, the Secretary said.
Weeratunga was speaking at the presentation of land deeds to persons who do not own land, under the 12th stage of Ranbima title presentation programme launched by the Lands Reforms Commission (LRC) at Temple Trees yesterday. It was held under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“ The time has come for the people to evaluate the pros and cons of the Provincial Council system which was set up under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution without calling for a referendum,” he said.
The Secretary said it is left to the people to evaluate the benefits received from the Provincial Councils which were established in 1989.
He said public views were not sought prior to the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on which Provincial Councils were set up.
The Secretary to the President said the provision of a plot of land to a person who does not inherit an inch of land in the country has become a cumbersome process today as there is a clash between the Provincial councils and District Secretaries over land powers.
“The people seeking land have to go to various places to get approval due to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
The Secretary said the distribution of lands among the landless was a simple process before the 13th Amendment was in force.
“An Assistant Government Agent was able to provide a land to a family who did not have legal ownership of their own land earlier,” he said.
Weeratunga said the LRC which comes under the direct supervision of the President has carried out tremendous work in all parts of the country including the North and East.
The Secretary to the President said the country went through an era in where the people’s lives were in danger due to terrorist atrocities.
Parents were left with no other option than hanging around the gates of schools fearing terrorist attacks.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was determined in eliminating terrorism from the country faced many obstacles, he said.
He said many countries including the UK, United States, France and neighbouring India exerted pressure to stop the humanitarian operation launched by the government to free the country from terrorism.
Weeratunga said President Rajapaksa replying to these forces said the majority of the people in the country had given him a clear mandate to free the country from terrorism and he remained committed to achieve this objective.