Participation in constitution making process:
Joint Opposition divided

Police bid to silence media alleged


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition yesterday admitted that it hadn’t been able to reach consensus on a common response to the ongoing constitutional making process.

The grouping loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that in spite of differences over that matter it would contest the forthcoming local government elections under one banner.

Addressing the media at Dr. N. M. Perera Center,former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said that JO constituents were preparing for much delayed LG polls. The electorate was awaiting the opportunity to teach an unforgettable lesson to yahapalana rulers, Prof. Peiris said.

Dismissing the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) role as the main Opposition, Prof. Peiris declared the outcome of the LG polls would reflect people’s response to unbridled corruption.

Prof. Peiris were flanked by JO parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, UPFA MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Prof. Tissa Vitharana, general Secretary of the LSSP.

Asked whether the JO would participate in three-day debate on constituional proposals in parliament later this month, MP Weerawansa said that five-member NFF parliamentary group would shun the debate as the party had quit the process several weeks back.

The JO consists of 55 MPs elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls in Aug. 2015.

When The Island sought the SLFP rebels’ stand, MP Aluthgamage said that they were of the view their participation was essential to expose the government strategy."We’ll reveal what is going on," the Kandy District MP said, emphasizing that their participation shouldn’t be construed as JO backing for the UNP’s cause.

The Constitutional Assembly will take up constitutional proposals over a three-day period beginning Oct 30. Finalization of the process would depend on the outcome of three day talks, UNP National List MP and LSSP stalwart Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne recently said.

Dr. Wickramaratne is on record as having said that the reports submitted by six sub committees that dealt with fundamental rights, judiciary, law and order, public finance, public service and centre– periphery relations would be subjected to discussions. Similarly, the Steering Committee’s interim report that dealt with six vital subjects, nature of the state, executive, parliamentary elections, principles of devolution, religion and state land, too, would be discussed, Dr. Wickramaratne said.

Responding to another query, MP Weerawansa said that his party had on Wednesday (Oct 11) briefed President Maithripala Sirisena on the danger of introducing new Constitution/constitutional changes, harassment of armed forces officers and disgraceful attacks on the Maha Sangha.

MP Weerawansa emphasised that President Sirisena had invited them to talks after his party had made representations to him regarding anti-Sri Lanka project. The MP said that the JO hadn’t been consulted in this regard.

The NFF leader said that when the NFF explained that the latest project was meant to do away with some safeguards in the 13th Amendment to prevent chaos, President said he wouldn’t do what the JRJ had not done.

MP Gunawardena lambasted the government for unleashing police on JO led protest outside the Indian Consulate at Hambantota last week. MP Gunwardena said that the police, in an obvious bid to silence the media, had targeted Susantha Bandara Karunaratne, of The Sunday Apple.

MP Gunawardena alleged that those who had been deployed at the scene attacked protesters and even those passing the area. Among those who had been apprehended and remanded on false charges were a 74-year-old woman taking lunch to a person warded at the local hospital and a close relative of a minister representing the South.

MP Gunawardena declined to reveal the identity of the politician’s relative. "He’ll have an interesting story to tell when produced him in court on Oct 16."

MPs Weerawansa and Aluthgamage said that those who had voted for change of government in January 2015 today obviously regretted their decision. Having promised good governance and accountability, they had robbed the Central Bank. Amidst media furore over shocking revelations made at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P-CoI) probing Central Bank-Perpetual Treasuries bond scams, the country recently got to know about how government appointed Chairman of Litro Gas Moonasinghe ‘raided’ Taiwan bank.

MP Weerawansa declared that yahapalana government had made Sri Lanka infamous for robbing banks. Having caused colossal losses by bond frauds, they had now robbed a foreign bank, MP Aluthgamage said, expressing concern over possible interference in P-CoI.

MP Aluthgamage said that though there had been large scale frauds, there were never instances of the entire state financial apparatus perpetrating such a massive fraud on the people. Now that UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim and UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema had contradicted statements made by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, in respect of urgent fund requirement to pay for road contractors, the UNP should explain its position, MP Aluthgamage said.

Referring to AG’s team assisting the P-CoI deciding not to question the ministers, MP Aluthgamage urged President Sirisena not to dilute the faith people had in the inquiry by allowing interference.

Prof. Vitharana alleged that the government had allowed the US to dictate terms to Sri Lanka. The veteran politician strongly condemned controversial statement made by US Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific and Task Force 73 at the recently concluded Galle Dialogue in Colombo. The top US official said that Sri Lanka should be careful when making deals with China, because it was not always transparent with its intentions.

The former Minister said that the US military had no right to issue such statements in respect of relations between Sri Lanka and another country.


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