17 October 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Only 1.1% of Sri Lankans are extremely aware that a Constitutional reform process is taking place at present while 21.9% are somewhat aware. 34.1% are aware that it is taking place but not at all aware about the details and status, while almost 25% of Sri Lankans said that they did not know that a Constitutional reform process is taking place at present.
According to this survey, almost 70% of Sri Lankans have not heard of the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reform (PRC) and its activities. Only 0.7% said that they are extremely aware while 8.7% said that they are somewhat aware. 21% have heard of the PRC but were not aware of its activities.
At a Provincial level, Uva (83.6%) and North Western (76.8%) slowest the highest lack of awareness regarding the PRC. Almost 30% from the Western and Sabaragamuwa Provinces stated that they had heard of the PRC but were not aware of its activities. Awareness was highest in the Northern Province where 30% indicated their awareness of the PRC and its activities.
Similar, lack of awareness was very high when it came to the Constitutional Assembly as well. 76.8% of Sri Lankans had not heard of the Constitutional Assembly while 14% had heard of it but were not aware of its activities. Almost 60% of Sri Lankans said that the Government has not been successful in their communication regarding the Constitutional reform process – such as its importance and progress – to the general public. Only 4.8% said that they have been successful and 21.5% said that the Government has been somewhat successful but could be better.
On the question of completely abolishing the Executive Presidential system, a key election promise of the yahapalanaya Government, Sri Lankans are once again divided with 35.7% supporting the complete abolition of the Executive Presidential system and 40.3% not supporting it. 24% said that they do not know whether they support it or not. Article 2 of our current Constitution states that ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State’ and 63.6% of Sri Lankans believe that it is important to retain the phrase ‘unitary state’ in the new Constitution. This opinion is mainly held by the Sinhalese community (77.7%) while only 14.3% from the Tamil, 18.1% from the Up Country Tamil and 28.8% from the Muslim communities stated the same.
On the question of giving Buddhism a special place in the Constitution, around 77% of Sinhalese strongly agree that Buddhism should be given a special place in the Constitution. In comparison, 73.3% from the Tamil, 89.2% from the Up Country Tamil and 71.4% from the Muslim communities strongly disagree that Buddhism should be given a special place in the Constitution. Conducted in the 25 districts of the country, this survey captured the opinion of 2002 Sri Lankans from the four main ethnic communities. The selection of respondents was random across the country. Fieldwork was conducted from August 29 – September 23, 2016.
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Social Indicator (SI) is the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and was established in September 1999, filling a longstanding vacuum for a permanent, professional and independent polling facility in Sri Lanka on social and political issues. Driven by the strong belief that polling is an instrument that empowers democracy, SI has been conducting polls on a large range of socio-economic and political issues since its inception.
Please contact Iromi Perera at [email protected]cpasocialindicator.org for further information.