Is returning 19a dual citizenship only to be applicable to Basil?


There is a raucous regarding the need to return to 19a simply to bring back the dual citizenship clause. Magnanimous as the request is, the aim is to only remove Basil Rajapakse from Parliament. There is stark silence on others who are dual citizen not only in Parliament but in Public Service as well as those functioning in State entities as Chairman’s and DGs. So let’s be first clear that we are all in agreement that the dual citizenship clause must be included but it has to be included not only to remove Basil Rajapakse from Parliament.

If 19a was to remove Basil – 20a was to return Basil. Both are not correct

There is stoic silence when those parroting dual citizenship are asked to name others who are dual citizens. No one wants to take any effort to find out others who are dual citizens. This is called hypocrisy and bias.


When 19a was passed – two important inclusions were the dual citizenship and the Election Commission.


It fell upon the Election Commission to ensure that nominations for the parliamentary elections clearly required nominees to pledge if they were or were not dual citizens. This had to be a mandatory requirement.


The Election Commission too was responsible not simply to accept what was written on the candidates form but to also double check with the Dept of Immigration/Emigration as well as request the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry to request select countries to confirm that the candidates were not dual citizens. None of this was done in August 2015.


Geetha Kumarasinghe was the only candidate honest enough to confirm her dual citizenship status and her honesty lost her Parliament seat while the other dual citizens sheepishly stayed without uttering a word.

The so-called unbiased Election Commission headed by Mahinda Deshapriya failed to uphold what the 19a required & ensure no dual citizens were contesting elections. This was a major fallacy on their part.


If this mandatory requirement was not fulfilled by the Election Commission, the next option was for the President to call for affidavits from elected MPs to confirm they were not dual citizens. This was also not done. So what is the purpose of inserting a clause if actions are not taken to ensure the clause is implemented and as required constitutionally, no dual citizens sits in Parliament? Is there any point in returning to a clause that is implemented for some but not for others?


The 19a dual citizenship clause was applicable only to the position of President & MPs. But recent debate insist the need to include it for Top Public Servants and spouses as well.


The calls for such inclusion has merit primarily because of the pressures exerted by governments of the “other country” they are citizen in. This is particularly applicable to countries that exert pressure against Sri Lanka en bloc and interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

Dual citizens are people with dual loyalties – while this is immaterial to general public most of whom who have settled overseas do a considerable amount of social service to country well being, dual citizens who are in State positions are prone to be pressurized where bilateral relations, dialogue or agreements are concerned. Their loyalties will always get tested. This is unhealthy and the extent of influence will generally differ from person to person integrity. These cannot be measured or worded in a constitution or gazette. This is why we have to take a blanket decision not to have dual citizens take up public positions as they are generating income from two sources and dividing their loyalties between two countries.


Therefore, people calling for the return of 19a dual citizenship clause requires that it is applicable not only to Basil Rajapakse but all dual citizens currently in Parliament, in PCs, service in Senior Public roles (from Governors to Senior Secretaries) will have to be asked to resign. How about Private Sector dual citizens who may be taking revenues out of the country?


The logic behind this is that these are key people the citizens have tasked to be custodian of the State, even if it is temporarily they are bound by Public Trust Principle to honor the faith the people have placed on them, however if the other nation that they are also citizen in also demand them to show loyalty to them above Sri Lanka or even compromising Sri Lanka, this is a dangerous scenario as these Top Public Servants are privy to state secrets and classified information which can be shared with states that will protect them for their treachery! The scenarios within this set up are many for us to think about.


If 19a was introduced considering this in mind, then there has to be an equally powerful mechanism to filter all dual citizens and not simply target selectively.


The mechanism to check who is a dual citizen is ideally their own honesty (which is unlikely), the Election Commission taking action (which didn’t happen), the foreign ministry taking action (which they should), the Immigration/Emigration dept taking action (which they should), the President calling for affidavits (which he has to)

Everyone likes to say “he …….. is a dual citizen” we can’t go by “lu” stories.

We need to have the facts!


Dual citizenship clause is definitely a must. No one is denying anyone to serve Sri Lanka and anyone wishing to do so must be loyal only to Sri Lanka and not to two countries. The taxpayer is looking after the people who act as their representatives, therefore people who are dual citizens should not hold portfolios unless they give up their dual citizenship & serve only Sri Lanka. Citizens who are dual citizens are not living off the tax payer but do a yeomen service to their motherland even living overseas.


Are those calling to return to 19a dual citizenship clause be prepared to name all dual citizens in Parliament & Public Service and demand their removal? It is hoped that the Presidential Team appointed to draft a new constitution has addressed this properly and taken care of all the loopholes that were prevalent in the 19a and 20a which should not be repeated by hurriedly passing a 21a.




Shenali D Waduge


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