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20A: PM in the same boat as SJB– Kiriella

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that people had a right to know who had prepared the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and the government should reveal the names of its architects.

Addressing the media at the SJB Headquarters in Etul Kotte, MP Kiriella said: “Those who framed all Constitutions since 1948 are known. In 1948, we got a constitution that had been prepared by Lord Soulbury. The preparation of the Soulbury Constitution. All parties including delegations from Jaffna, Up-country and Southern provinces were given the opportunity to submit their proposals. There was a framer so others could contact him to make suggestions. That should be the procedure. After that in 1970, we had the Republican Constitution. It was framed by Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and others. We had a Second Republican Constitution in 1978 with President JR Jayewardene as its author. President Chandrika Kumaratunga tried to introduce a new constitution – Prof G. L. Peiris was its author. Thereafter, we brought in the 19th Amendment to the constitution. I presented it to the House. It was prepared by Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne.”

“Now, we have before us a draft amendment which has no architect. As MPs of the Opposition whom we to question on the content of the draft Bill? Everybody we have contacted in the government told us they were not aware of the content of the draft bill. Justice Minister too says that he did not draft it. We have a right to know who drafted it.”

The MP said that the government should explain to the people who had made the draft bill. “The Prime Minister too is in the same boat as regards the content of 20th Amendment Bill. So, how can the government defend this in Parliament or anywhere else? When the draft bill was presented to the Cabinet, the ministers had been notified that it was there to be approved and not discussed. It would not be that easy when the Bill is presented to Parliament.”

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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