Connect with us


Anti-PTA battle cry to divert attention away from far bigger issues facing country



JVP questions motive of protest leaders


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The JVP-led Jathika Jana Balavegaya (JJB) says that those who have pledged their support for a protest march and rally in Colombo today (02) against what they called suppression of ‘Aragalaya’ activists, fully cooperated with the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s agenda.

Former JVP MP and trade union leader Wasantha Samarasinghe alleged that protests, demanding the abolition of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the immediate releasing of those who had been detained in term of the draconian law, were nothing but despicable bid to deceive the masses. Samarasinghe served as an MP between 2004 and 2020. Ex-Anuradhapura District lawmaker Samarasinghe said that street protests should be resolutely backed by standing up against the government in Parliament. Unfortunately, those who masquerade as the Opposition, allowed the government to pursue its destructive policy, the former MP said.

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), Sri Lanka Freedom party (SLFP), Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa (SLPP rebel group led by Dullas Alahapperuma and Prof. GL. Peiris), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), Young Lawyers Association, Lanka Guru Sangamaya, Young Journalists Association, Sri Lanka Telecom Workers Union and several other groups are expected to join the protest near, Elphinstone cinema, Maradana.

Asked to explain, the JVPer pointed out that the vote on the Petroleum Products (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill taken, on October 18, revealed how those who vigorously opposed the government were conveniently absent at the time of the vote.

The former lawmaker said that only the JJB voted against the Bill as a political grouping recognized in Parliament. Three JJB members Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Vijitha Herath and Dr. Harini Amarasuriya voted against the Bill, along with 14 other members, whereas 77 voted for it.

Pointing out that 130 lawmakers, of the 225-member Parliament, skipped that vote, trade union activist Samarasinghe said it was not an isolated incident. The ex-MP said that the JJB exposed the doublespeak of those in the Opposition by calling for a division. MP Vijitha Herath did so on behalf of the JJB.

That Bill was meant to liberalize the petroleum sector by allowing international suppliers to enter the local market as retail operators and do away with the monopoly of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) on jet fuel, Samarasinghe said.

The ex-MP alleged that the same group acted identically when the Parliament voted for the Social Security Contribution Levy Bill, on September 08. The Bill, meant to collect Rs 140 bn annually, received the backing of 91 lawmakers, whereas only 10, including three JJB members, voted against, Samarasinghe said.

The JVPer challenged the SJB, rebel SLPPers and others in the Opposition to prove their commitment to a common campaign against the government. Beforehand, they owed the people an explanation why they skipped votes on Social Security Contribution Levy Bill and the Petroleum Products (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill on September 08 and October 17, respectively, Samarasinghe said.

The ex-Parliamentarian warned the public against those trying to divert public attention from the government moves to privatise key sectors. The conduct of political parties, represented in Parliament in the passage of the Petroleum Products (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill, should be examined, taking into consideration the Yugadanavi deal, Samarasinghe said.

The JVP firebrand said that it would be a joke to get on the same stage with people who tacitly backed the Yugadanavi deal, finalized at midnight, on September 17 last year. Flaying Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government for the agreement with the US-based New Fortress Energy, Samarasinghe said the opening of the petroleum market was part of their overall strategy. The issue over the PTA was being utilized as a rallying point for the Opposition while the government moved ahead with its economic plan, the ex-MP said.

Samarasinghe pointed out that a section of the international community, too, wants the PTA abolished. “We, too, are opposed to the PTA, though there are far bigger issues. If we get trapped in an anti-PTA protest campaign that would facilitate the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa strategy,” Samarasighe said.


Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
Continue Reading


Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

Continue Reading


Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

Continue Reading