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Govt. MP strikes discordant note, slams Parliament over National List farce

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… condemns halting of Law College exams in Sinhala

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Gevindu Cumaratunga says a section of the ruling coalition is pursuing political strategies contrary to the mandate received by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary elections.

MP Cumaratunga also strongly criticised the conduct of the Parliament as the highest institution in the country on the basis of continuing manipulation of the National List to accommodate those who had been rejected by the electorate and appointed outside the respective National Lists of political parties. The parliament consists of 196 elected and 29 appointed members.

The MP explained how the UNP schemed in the late 80s to manipulate the entire process to introduce the National List. Reference was made to the appointment of defeated candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe on the UNP National List and Basil Rajapaksa on the SLPP National List.

SLPP National List MP Cumaratunga who is also the President of the Yuthukama civil society group questioned rationale in pushing for the holding of the much delayed Provincial Council polls as quickly as possible.

The MP summoned a media briefing after he was denied the time to address the Parliament during the debate on the Justice Ministry vote. The lawmaker found fault with the government for its failure to unveil the Draft Constitution before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa completed two years in office. Cumaratunga is one of the MPs who had pledged his support to the battle against the highly questionable deal on the Yugadanavi Power Station that is now before the Supreme Court.

The civil society activist emphasized that Provincial Council polls shouldn’t be held under any circumstances until the introduction of the new Constitution. Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that the country received an assurance from Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC that the draft Constitution would be presented within two years. Therefore, the delay couldn’t be accepted though the global epidemic Covid-19 caused immense problems.

MP Cumaratunga emphasized that he didn’t want to discuss other matters as the media briefing was especially called to address some specific issues namely the new Constitution and some matters related to the Justice Ministry.

Alleging that the Provincial Councils system in its present form violated the unitary status of the country, MP Cumaratunga said that in line with the mandates received at two national elections, the proposed new Constitution should do away with all those Amendments introduced in the wake of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987 meant to appease separatist sentiments.

Responding to media queries, lawmaker Cumaratunga said that those who voted for the SLPP at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary elections expected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to fulfill the pledges given.

Commenting on the enactment of the 20th Amendment in Oct 2020 with an overwhelming 2/3 majority, MP Cumaratunga said that the country expected a new Constitution. Acknowledging the need for what he called an interim constitutional measure in the wake of 2019 presidential election victory, MP Cumaratunga said that he expected the proposed draft Constitution to include the valuable provision to prevent dual citizens with divided loyalties entering Parliament. Cumaratunga said that particular provision introduced trough the 19th Amendment had been neutralized by the 20th Amendment. Therefore, that provision should be brought back.

The post-war Sri Lanka needed a Constitution that reflected Sri Lanka’s triumph over terrorism. Similarly, elections reforms were required to abolish the current Proportional Representation system that encouraged, promoted and strengthened corruption at every level, he said.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga questioned the appointment of Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara as the head of Presidential Task Force (PTF) appointed to promote ‘One Country, One Law Concept.’ The civil society activist said that though he appreciated the concept the appointment of Ven. Gnanasara undermined the very concept President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promoted.

Towards the end of the briefing, Cumaratunga discussed how the incumbent government violated the Constitution by creating ministries in excess of the constitutional stipulation that restricted the number of cabinet ministers to 30 and State Ministers and Deputies to 40. The MP expressed appreciation to engineer Kapila Renuka Perera for seeking the Supreme Court intervention in that regard. Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that the 19th Amendment brought in restrictions on the number of ministers at a time the public agitated against top heavy government.

The outspoken MP fiercely criticized those within the government who believed in a so-called national government to overcome constitutional restrictions imposed on the number of ministers. The Yuthukama Chief warned such measures would cause rapid deterioration of the government and erode public confidence on the SLPP administration.

Alleging that former Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had stopped conduct of classes for law students in Sinhala, MP Cumaratunga said that incumbent minister Sabry stopped conducting of Law College examinations in Sinhala. The MP said that the government should be ashamed of the situation. The MP also pointed out that Supreme Court judgments were delivered only In English and even the Parliament was deprived of a Sinhala copy in respect of major issues such as the ruling on the Colombo Port Commission Bill.



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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage

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‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics

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SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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